LIFESTYLE

Warning Over Rise Of Antibiotic Resistance: Should I Take The Full Course Of Medicine?

Experts say 'superbugs' will kill someone every three seconds by 2050.

19/05/2016 11:12

For decades we've relied on antibiotics to make us better when we're ill.

But a new report has warned that, by 2050, "superbugs" will kill someone every three seconds, due to the threat of antibiotic resistance. 

Scientists behind the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance have called for major investment in the pharmaceuticals industry to help in the battle against infections that are resistant to drugs

But how does this affect average people and should we change the way we use antibiotics?

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Dr Helen Webberley, the dedicated GP for Oxford Online Pharmacy, says antibiotics should only ever be used to treat acute bacterial infections and not viral infections.

You can usually tell the difference between the two based on your symptoms.

"Viruses tend to cause 'general symptoms' such as headaches, fever, sore
throat, sore ear, tickly cough etc," she tells The Huffington Post UK.

"Bacteria tend to be much more focused such as a nasty red pussy throat, a nasty productive cough, a very painful bulging ear, a nasty pussy skin lesion or a really awful cystitis. 

"Of course there are exceptions to the rule. In general, if you are very unwell you should see a doctor, but if you are just generally under the weather, it is probably a virus."

Dr Webberley believes antibiotic resistance is something that should be on our radars as "once this has taken hold we will be in big trouble".

"Already we see that bacteria such as staph aureus, which used to be treated
with simple flucloxacillin, have a super resistant strain - MRSA - which
causes havoc and is really hard to get rid of," she explains.

"Some women with simple water infections are really struggling to find an antibiotic that will kill the bacteria they have.

"Before antibiotics, fit young women - mothers and wives - were dying of water infections."

Despite this, we shouldn't panic about our use of antibiotics or make drastic changes to our behaviour without the advice of a doctor.

While Dr Webberley believes doctors globally need to restrict the use of antibiotics in the first place, she says patients should always finish a course of antibiotics they have been prescribed unless there is a "good reason" not to.

"If the side effects are really making you ill you should consult your pharmacist or your GP about stopping," she says.

As viruses are not cured by antibiotics and your own body can fight many bacterial infections without antibiotics, Dr Webberley says drugs are not the only answer if you're feeling under the weather.

"Rest, paracetamol, fluids and cuddles all help," she says.

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