Incorrect antibiotic use is creating a major public health challenge

Antibiotics

Doctor writing out RX prescription selective focus

With germ season upon us, we all dream of a magic pill that will make us feel better quickly. For decades, antibiotics have been that “magic pill,” treating illnesses and saving lives. But, did you know that unnecessary use of antibiotics has led to the biggest public health challenge of our time?

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria no longer respond to the drugs designed to kill them.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year in the United States at least 2 million people get an antibiotic-resistant infection and more than 23,000 people die because of these infections.

Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs used in human medicine. However, up to 50 percent of all the antibiotics prescribed for people are not needed or are not optimally effective as prescribed.

If you visit a doctor or urgent care for an illness, you might expect to go home with a prescription for antibiotics.  Many people believe that antibiotics can treat everything, but that is not the case.

  • Antibiotics are only needed for treating certain infections caused by bacteria.
  • They do not work on viruses, such as colds and flu, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow, or green.
  • Antibiotics also won’t help for some common bacterial infections including most cases of bronchitis, many sinus infections, and some ear infections.

The more we use antibiotics, the more we contribute to the pool of antibiotic-resistant microbes in our environments. The development of resistance is an inevitable byproduct of exposure to antibiotics. All antibiotic use, whether warranted or not, places selection pressure on bacteria, and some organisms that possess genetic mutations will survive antibiotic treatment.

Your medical providers want you to feel your best, but antibiotics aren’t always the answer.

Over time, resistance threatens to return us to an era where simple bacterial infections will once again be deadly. World health leaders have described antibiotic-resistant microorganisms as “nightmare bacteria” that “pose a catastrophic threat” to people in every country in the world.

Each year in November, the CDC and numerous health care partners host U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week to raise awareness about the threat of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic prescribing and use.

Improving the way healthcare professionals prescribe antibiotics, and the way we take antibiotics, helps keep us healthy now, helps fight antibiotics resistance, and ensures that these life-saving drugs will be available for future generations.

When antibiotics are not the answer, your doctor at Alliance will talk with you about the best ways to help you feel better quickly, including over the counter medications, at home treatments, etc.

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