Sunday, June 5, 2016
Antibiotic resistance recently hit the headlines again. Our dedicated GP, Dr. Helen Webberley MBChB MRCGP MFSRH, spoke to Huffington Post about what it means and whether we should be worried:
Viruses tend to cause 'general symptoms' such as headaches, fever, sore throat, sore ear, tickly cough, etc. Bacteria tend to be much more focused - a nasty red throat, a productive cough, a very painful bulging ear, a pussy skin lesion or really awful cystitis for example.
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule but, in general, if you are very unwell, you should see a doctor. If you are just generally 'under the weather', it is probably a virus. Antibiotics should ONLY ever be used to treat acute bacterial infections.
Antibiotic resistance should be a huge concern for us all. 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. 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.
While, on the whole, people should take the full course of antibiotics that has been prescribed, it is more important to restrict the use of antibiotics in the first place. Unless there is a good reason not to finish the course, then you should finish it as per instructions. If the side effects are really making you ill, you should consult your pharmacist or your GP about stopping.
Viruses are not cured by antibiotics, only bacteria are, and your own body can fight many bacterial infections without antibiotics. Rest, paracetamol, fluids, cuddles - all help.