As part of its ‘Winter is Coming’ initiative this May, NPS MedicineWise is urging people to make a renewed pledge to help fight antibiotic resistance this cold and flu season.
NPS MedicineWise Clinical Adviser Dr Jeannie Yoo says that it’s understandable that as cold and flu season approaches, people are looking for ways to help themselves and their families feel better when they’re unwell.
However, for people with infections due to common winter viruses, but who are otherwise healthy, antibiotics are not the answer.
“Using antibiotics when you don’t need to could make them less effective when you do,” says Dr Yoo.
“So this winter we’re urging people to not ask for antibiotics when they don’t need them and to let their doctor know that they only want antibiotics if they are truly necessary.
“Instead, use common sense ways of managing your cold and flu symptoms, including plenty of rest and fluids, and only see your doctor if you feel your symptoms are severe or are not improving. You may want to consider getting a flu vaccination now to reduce your risk of a serious bout of flu as the winter season nears.”
A 2014 NPS MedicineWise survey showed that one in five Australians expect antibiotics for viruses like a cold or flu, and 17% would ask a doctor to prescribe antibiotics even though these medicines won’t work on a viral infection.
“Antibiotic resistance isn’t a future problem—it’s here now,” says Dr Yoo.
“If you or a member of your family develop an antibiotic resistant infection, chances are you may have the infection for longer, are more likely to have complications from the infection, and could pass your infection to other people,” she told consumers.
“Of key concern is the fact that some antibiotic resistant infections could become untreatable.
“It’s absolutely crucial that Australians start to realise that steps they take each winter can make a difference when it comes to reducing the spread of antibiotic resistance.”
NPS MedicineWise is urging people to head to its new campaign website winteriscoming.nps.org.au to take the pledge to join the fight against antibiotic resistance by committing to the following:
- I will not ask for antibiotics for colds and the flu as they have no effect on viruses.
- I understand that antibiotics will not help me recover faster from a viral infection.
- I will only take antibiotics in the way they have been prescribed.
- I understand that it is possible to pass on antibiotic resistant bacteria to others.
- I will make a greater effort to prevent the spread of germs by practising good hygiene.