When you are sick, antibiotics are not always the answer

<< All News Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - 11:00pm Categories:

The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) recognizes U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week Nov. 18-24, 2021. The week brings awareness to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s year-round campaign “Be Antibiotics Aware: Smart Use, Best Care,” which is focused on improving antibiotic prescription and combating antibiotic resistance.

Any time antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects such as rashes, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea or yeast infections. Antibiotics can also contribute to antibiotic resistance, which happens when germs like bacteria and fungi develop the ability to defeat the medications designed to kill them. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health.

“The message is not to avoid antibiotics; antibiotics save lives - but we need to be smart how we use them,” said Faye Salzer, NDDoH antibiotic stewardship coordinator. “Antibiotics are critical tools for treating several common and more serious infections like those that can lead to sepsis. When a patient needs antibiotics, the benefits outweigh the risks of side effects and antibiotic resistance. Don’t pressure your provider to give you a prescription if they don’t think they are going to help.”

  • Antibiotics do NOT treat viruses like those that cause colds, flu or COVID-19.
  • Antibiotics are only needed for treating certain infections caused by bacteria, but even some bacterial infections get better without antibiotics. Antibiotics are not required for many sinus infections and some ear infections.
  • An antibiotic will not make you feel better if you have a virus. Respiratory viruses usually go away in a week or two without treatment. Ask your health care provider for suggestions for things you can do at home to relieve symptoms and products you can get over the counter to feel better while your body fights off the virus.

If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Talk with your health care provider if you have any questions about your antibiotics, and don’t stop taking them if you feel better unless told to by your provider. Do not take saved antibiotics for the next time you don’t feel well. Always talk to your provider if you develop side effects, especially severe diarrhea. This could be Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile or C. diff), an infection that requires immediate treatment.

Everyone can help improve antibiotic prescribing and use, which will help keep us healthy now, fight antibiotic resistance and ensure that life-saving antibiotics will be available in the future.

More information can be found at: www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use

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