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Antibiotics unlikely to be the answer to your cough, cold or sore throat

10 February 2017


An over-reliance on antibiotics could make infections harder to treat, a local health body has warned.

Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG), the body responsible for commissioning health care in Bedfordshire is concerned that with more people expecting to receive antibiotics for common viruses such as coughs, colds and sore throats, it could stop antibiotics from killing bacteria or preventing it from reproducing and spreading if they are consistently used.

Fiona Garnett, Head of Medicine Management at BCCG said, “Many people wrongly assume that antibiotics are a cure-all remedy for their winter illness, but in reality, they have no effect. Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections and bacteria finds ways to become immune to the antibiotics that we take, making them less effective and in some cases stopping them from working altogether.”

The Clinical Commissioning Group is urging residents in Bedfordshire to use antibiotics sensibly to stop bacteria becoming resistant to them, so they can longer be used to treat infections.

Fiona Garnett added: “it's vital antibiotics are used only in the right way, as prescribed by a doctor. We can all do our bit to limit antibiotic resistance, and you can play your part by not expecting your GP to prescribe antibiotics to make your minor winter illness better.

“It’s important to remember that antibiotics aren’t necessarily the answer to your problems and in many cases, it’s best to let your body fight off infection by itself.

“A pharmacist may be able to recommend over-the-counter remedies to ease the symptoms of winter illness, so visit your local pharmacy for advice if you’re feeling under the weather.”

When prescribed antibiotics, it’s important to follow your GPs instructions carefully improper use of can help bacteria to develop resistance to antibiotics.

Never skip doses of antibiotics, save some for later or stop taking them before your course is finished, because even if you’re feeling better there may still be bacteria in your system.

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

To find out more about antibiotics go to www.nhs.uk/antibiotics,  or visit www.antibioticguardian.com  if you would like to join the fight against antibiotic resistance by becoming an Antibiotic Guardian – and make a simple pledge about how you’ll make better use of antibiotics and help save these vital medicines from becoming obsolete.

For further information on staying well this winter visit www.nhs.uk/staywell

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