Friday, November 18, 2011

Antibiotics save lives, but only when used properly

It’s Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, a week dedicated to promoting appropriate antibiotic use. Antibiotics save lives and help fight illness. But in recent years, we’ve seen growing biological resistance to antibiotics due to their overuse and misuse. This is a major problem.

An antibiotic is a medicine that kills bacteria or stops it from spreading. It treats bacterial infections, not viral infections. So if you have a cold or flu symptoms, antibiotics won’t work. Plus, taking antibiotics when they are not needed increases your risk of getting an infection later that resists treatment.

If you are prescribed antibiotics, talk with your health provider about antibiotic resistance. Take it exactly as your doctor tells you, and complete the course even if you begin feeling better. If you don’t take all the pills and you stop treatment too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect you.

Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, Nov. 14-20, aims to educate people, raise awareness about this growing health problem and provide tips for ensuring their safe use. Many organizations are participating in this effort, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work campaign, along with partners such as the American Public Health Association.

APHA’s Get Ready campaign offers a range of resources to help you stay safe and prevent the spread of disease. Simple things like washing your hands and knowing what materials to have on hand when dealing with emergencies can help you avoid getting sick.

Knowing the facts and staying healthy are the greatest weapons against bacterial infections. Get Smart About Antibiotics Week is a important way to help make sure you, your family and friends play it safe.

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