Consultant highlights the risk of overusing antibiotics

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A consultant pharmacist is appealing for people not to become reliant on antibiotics as winter sets in.

In order for people to continue fighting infections, health professionals are warning people of the risks if antibiotics are used too widely, as the bacteria causing infections may become resistant to the drugs.

Andy Karvot (pictured), consultant pharmacist-antimicrobials across Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, wants to stop people turning to their GPs with the mindset that a simple cough or cold should be treated with antibiotics.

He said: “The common cold or flu should not need such medication as these are viral infections against which antibiotics are ineffective and most episodes are self-limiting and will disappear within a week or so. Simple relief measures such as paracetamol, cold and flu remedies, decongestants, cough syrups and plenty of rest will often be enough.

“Taking antibiotics should only be as a last resort for suspected bacterial infections. We need to use antibiotics responsibly in order for them to continue fighting infections. Bacteria can adapt and find ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic. They become ‘antibiotic resistant’ which is one of the most significant threats to patients’ safety across Europe as we will run out of antibiotics to treat serious infections.

“Bacteria are very efficient at developing resistance to antibiotics and much quicker at doing so than humans are at developing new, more effective ones. By using antibiotics prudently we can slow down the development of resistance. It’s not possible to stop it completely but careful use will buy some time to develop new types of antibiotics.

“I am fully supportive of the recent national drive to urge people to become ‘Antibiotic Guardians’ – this was a campaign as part of European Antibiotic Awareness Day held this month. This involves making both health professionals and the public more aware that the use of antibiotics should only be when absolutely necessary and indicated.”