Reading Time: 5 minutes
Medications That Save Lives
Antibiotics are vital, life-saving medications. These prescriptions help to cure many infections every year. This class of medications provides critical intervention for many infections that used to be fatal. However, patients should understand how to be responsible about antibiotics. Some crucial practices help to reduce antibiotic resistance.
Too much of a good thing
When a person takes antibiotics, the bacteria the pills are targeting will evolve to try to stay alive. This is known as antibiotic resistance. Resistance occurs when the bacteria of a particular infection develop to become stronger. In these cases, the prescriptions that previously would have killed the bacteria won’t work anymore.
Is resistance common?
Antibiotic-resistant infections can lead to serious health consequences and can even be fatal. Around 2 million people get one of these infections every year. One study even predicted that, unless people change habits around antibiotics, by the year 2050, these infections could surpass cancer as the leading cause of deaths around the world.
What patients do matters
Many patients think that healthcare providers are the only ones who can make a difference in preventing antibiotic resistance. But patients can be more aware as well. Research has even shown that a patient’s request for the medication can make a significant difference in whether or not a doctor writes a prescription.
What should I do?
Patients should be clear with healthcare providers about only wanting antibiotics when necessary. The more frequently a person uses these prescriptions, the higher the possibility of resistance. These medications are only useful in the presence of bacterial infections. This means that antibiotics are not helpful for the common cold, the flu, or many sinus infections. Even some bacterial infections, such as ear infections, do not always need antibiotics to get better.
Does that mean I should stop taking antibiotics?
Another crucial factor that contributes to resistance is when people stop taking antibiotics before a doctor has prescribed. This is true even if the patient feels better. When infections no longer respond to antibiotics, that means a patient needs even more expensive and complex medications. Conversely, if there are pills left over after the course of antibiotics described, people should never pass the prescription along to someone else.
Be antibiotic aware
Preventing antibiotic resistance is a joint effort for both patients and healthcare providers. For any questions or to learn more about this important issue, speak with a healthcare provider.