Tuesday, December 8, 2015
With news out this week that patients are less satisfied by GPs who refuse antibiotics, we speak to Oxford Online’s chief pharmacist, Stuart Gale, and our dedicated GP, Dr Helen Webberley about this issue and why patients need to change their health habits before it’s too late.
“Antibiotics have become very commonly used by doctors, dentists and vets. It seems like a very long time ago that simple infections, which today are so effectively dealt with by antibiotics, were a common cause of serious complications, or death. In many countries, you can buy antibiotics without a prescription, but the UK understands very clearly the implications of overusing antibiotics.
“If we use them when they are not needed, the bacteria that live in and around us every day, get exposed to the antibiotic and learn how to prevent the antibiotic from killing them. This is known as antibiotic resistance.
“We have already seen this with a lot of E Coli bugs becoming resistant to the antibiotic Trimethoprim, which is used to treat common water infections. This is also the problem with the life-threatening bug MRSA, which has become resistant to penicillin and we are now struggling to find new antibiotics to kill it.
“Looking to the future, there is a very real chance that the antibiotics we rely on so heavily now, will stop working and simple infections, such as water or throat infections, will once again become life-threatening.
“Antibiotics should only be used on bacterial infections, they are useless against viruses. Your pharmacist or GP will have a very good idea whether your infection is viral or bacterial, so seek expert advice. If the expert you are consulting offers an alternative to antibiotics they are doing so based on their knowledge of your ailment and the best course of treatment. If your pharmacist believes that your condition is bacterial, and that it cannot be treated with over the counter medicine, you will be referred to a GP.
“Online doctor services provide an excellent alternative to visiting your GP, but there are certain medications which should only be issued with a doctor's prescription and antibiotics are one.
“Never attempt to buy antibiotics without a prescription or the safety of the MHRA logo. By doing so, you are risking your health today and the health of you and your family in the future.”