A weekly column by Dr Miles Langdon of South Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group, addressing topical health issues
Speaking at a recent puplic event, Prime Minister David Cameron admitted we are at threat of being “cast back into the dark ages of medicine”, as responsible use of antibiotics becomes a national hot topic.
We all know that antibiotics have revolutionised the way we treat infections but some bacteria is now building up a resistance making infection prevention a challenge and when we do need them, antibiotics less effective.
Antibiotics will not treat viruses such as common colds, they simply don’t work. If you have a cold your immune system will help you recover.
There are many ways you can get help without seeing your GP. Talk to your pharmacist about taking paracetamol or an over-the-counter cold remedy or contact NHS 111 if you want to check you’re doing the right thing.
Resting, drinking fluids and washing your hands regularly with soap and water all help to reduce the spread of infection.
Only visit your GP when necessary and use antibiotics responsibly – your GP will be able to advise you whether antibiotics will help.
We often speak with patients who have been prescribed antibiotics and not finished the course, if you stop taking your antibiotics part way through the course, even when you feel better, the antibiotics may have only killed some of the bacteria and you may become ill again. You should always take antibiotics as prescribed and not share or save them. They’ve been prescribed for you only and your GP has considered the length of time you need to take them for.
If you do see a GP and they advise against antibiotics it’s important that you accept their decision.
The antibiotics we have are all we have and we need to save them for when we really need them. Frequent use of antibiotics builds up resistance and so makes it harder for us to really fight infections. We are asking all Lincolnshire patients to help us by using their local pharmacy or NHS 111 and not always expecting a prescription for antibiotics if they visit their GP.
You can find more information on antibiotics on the website www.nhschoices.co.uk