Use Antibiotics Wisely

Antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s most pressing public health threats, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While antibiotics are the most important tool to control life-threatening bacterial diseases, they can have side effects. And overuse of antibiotics increases the development of drug-resistant germs. The goal of Henry Ford’s Antimicrobial Stewardship Program (ASP) is four-fold:

  • Improve patient outcomes.
  • Improve patient safety.
  • Reduce antibiotic overuse.
  • Reduce cost

Under the direction of Infectious Diseases and Pharmacy Services, the ASP is championing a series of antibiotic initiatives to help curb the spread of antibiotic resistance. It’s estimated that approximately half of antibiotics prescribed for patients in the United States are inappropriate, the CDC says. Patients often seek medical care for viral infections like a cold, bronchitis or ear infections, but antibiotics are not effective against viral infections.

Repeated and improper use of antibiotics are the primary causes of antibiotic resistance, in which bacteria don’t kill germs and the germs survive and continue to multiply, rendering medications less effective at curing or preventing infections.

When antibiotics work for you

Using an antibiotic the wrong way can make infections stronger and harder to treat or result in harmful side effects.

  • Antibiotics are powerful medicines and ONLY help for treating infections due to bacteria such as strep throat, whooping cough or urinary tract infection
  • Many infections are due to viruses like a cold, flu or bronchitis
  • Never demand antibiotics from your doctor
  • Accurately describe your medication allergies for your doctor. Knowing if you have an upset stomach or more serious reaction will help your doctor choose the best antibiotic for you, should one be necessary
  • Take antibiotics exactly as your doctor tells you
  • Do not skip doses
  • Do not share antibiotic medicine with others
  • Finish the medicine even if you feel better
  • Do not save it for later

Let viral infections run their course

Antibiotics do not help infections caused by viruses like the cold or flu. Here’s what you can do to feel better until the illness runs its course.

  • Get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids
  • Soothe a sore throat with warm beverages, ice chips, sore throat spray, popsicles, lozenges (do not give lozenges to young children), or gargle with salt water
  • Use a humidifier or cool mist vaporizer to help with respiratory symptoms
  • Use saline nasal spray or drops to help nasal or sinus congestion
  • For earaches, put a warm moist cloth over the ear that hurts
  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about over the counter medications to help safely manage symptoms (like cough, congestion, and sore throat). Not all products are recommended for children.

Preventing antibiotic resistance

  • Get vaccinated! This helps prevent many of the illnesses we treat with antibiotics.
  • Wash your hands to prevent the spread of infection.
  • Stay home from work if you are sick.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Take the next step

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