New campaign highlights that antibiotics are ineffective for colds and flus

The HSE have launched their annual antibiotic awareness campaign, and the ads are now running on national and local radio stations highlighting the fact that it is pointless taking antibiotics for cold and flus.

Mullingar pharmacist Eamonn Brady explains; “European Antibiotic Awareness Day occurs every November and is an annual event to mark the problems encountered by the inappropriate use of antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance still remains a major European and global public health problem and is, for a large part, caused by misuse of antibiotics. This is the fifth year for the initiative”.

The results of a recent HSE survey revealed some worrying findings last week. It was revealed that one in four people in Ireland still wrongly believe that antibiotics prevent colds developing into more serious illness, or that they speed up the recovery from colds.

Speaking at the launch of the HSE’s antibiotic awareness campaign last week, Dr Fidelma Fitzpatrick, consultant microbiologist at Beaumount Hospital, explained; “Antibiotics have truly transformed modern medicine and are appropriately used to treat or prevent bacterial infections. However, we are all in danger of taking antibiotics for granted and we all have a role to play so that we don’t return to the pre-antibiotic era. Before antibiotics were available, common injuries such as cuts and scratches that became infected sometimes resulted in death or serious illness because there was no treatment available. Thankfully, this does not happen any more as we have antibiotics available to treat these infections. Casual attitudes to antibiotics is damaging their effectiveness.”

Pharmacist Eamonn Brady of Whelehans Pharmacy, Mullingar adds; “Antibiotics are now becoming ineffective to many infections, leading to the development of superbugs such as MRSA. Infections such as tuberculosis are now re-emerging because the bacteria are developing resistance because of our overuse of antibiotics. Bacterial resistance is likely to become one of the biggest public health problems in the coming years. The best way to prevent this problem is for all of us to only use antibiotics when we really need them.”

Many infections are viral so an antibiotic should not be prescribed. Eamonn gives the following advice if you have a cold or flu: Stay at home and rest if necessary. Drink plenty of water or soft drinks. Take paracetamol to reduce your temperature if feverish or if you are in any discomfort. You may wish to take other remedies, but be aware that they may contain paracetamol - do not exceed the maximum daily dose of paracetamol by combining different products - ask your pharmacist. Ask your pharmacist about other remedies you can safely take to relieve your symptoms. If you are concerned that your symptoms are getting worse or you are not better in a few days, phone your GP surgery for further advice.

For more information, visit www.hse.ie/antibiotics

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