Take care not antibiotics

A leading pharmacist is reminding us all that we should use antibiotics only when they’re needed to keep them effective. 

Coughs and colds are starting to circulate and many of us may be tempted to visit the GP for antibiotics, but patients are being warned that if they’re not needed they won’t be prescribed.  In fact, 44% of all people who visit the GP suffering from a cold or flu want or think they need antibiotics.

Françoise Price, Head of Medicines Optimisation at Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) explains:  “Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections.  Bacteria are very smart. They find ways to become immune to the antibiotics that we take, making them less effective and in some cases stops them working.  New antibiotics aren’t being researched and developed so we have to sensibly use the ones that we have.

“Most sore throats, such as tonsillitis are viral infections.  So taking antibiotics won’t have an effect.  The best thing people can do is visit their pharmacist for advice on over the counter remedies to ease the symptoms, to take plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids.”

Bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics when they’re used often, not taken as prescribed or the course isn’t finished.

Françoise Price added: “If people don’t finish the course because they feel better for example, then some of the bacteria can still be in the system.  It then mutates and develops a resistance to that antibiotic so that it’s not as effective next time.” 

If the cold lasts more than three weeks, or you become breathless or have chest pains, see your doctor or dial NHS111. 

You should never share your antibiotics with anyone else because you don’t know their medical history.

  • For more information including advice on getting your flu jab if you are eligible, visit Stay Well This Winter
  • For information on the Public Health England campaign to make better use of antibiotics and help protect these vital medicines visit Antibiotic Guardian
  • For a day to day guide to cold and flu symptoms and self help treatment with the help of your pharmacist visit Treat Yourself Better