Taking unneeded antibiotics speeds up drug resistance

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Posted 12/31/17

Antibiotics play an integral role in fighting bacterial infections, but lose their effectiveness if not prescribed and taken appropriately. Bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics and experts …

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Taking unneeded antibiotics speeds up drug resistance

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Antibiotics play an integral role in fighting bacterial infections, but lose their effectiveness if not prescribed and taken appropriately.

Bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics and experts say that increasingly causes trouble in treating some infectious diseases.

The Tennessee Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention want to raise awareness about the importance of appropriate antibiotic use and combating the threat of resistance.

“Before the dawn of the antibiotic age, about 80 years ago, bacterial infections that are commonly cured today were much scarier. There is a real possibility this could happen again and for certain diseases it is already a problem,” said TDH Commissioner Dr. John Dreyzehner.

“Taking antibiotics when we don’t need them speeds up resistance," he added. "We all can help by partnering with our health care providers, not taking antibiotics unnecessarily and taking them as prescribed when they are recommended.”

Nationally, a large amount of the antibiotics prescribed are not necessary or even helpful for the patients’ conditions, especially during this season of colds and flu.

TDH encourages patients and their medical providers to communicate closely to ensure that the reason antibiotics are or are not prescribed in a particular situation is clear and well understood.

“Inappropriate prescribing is what causes much of the antibiotic resistance that later limits the usefulness of these medications,” said TDH Chief Medical Officer and infectious disease specialist Dr. David Reagan. “Antibiotic resistance has become so dire that some bacteria are resistant to nearly all or all known antibiotics, and this is a scary situation.”

The CDC is complemented by a Be Antibiotics Aware campaign, a new educational effort providing stakeholders with up-to-date information about the importance of antibiotic prescribing and use. 

Tennesseans are encouraged to:

Know the facts about antibiotics;

Ask their health care provider about best ways to combat viruses;

Take antibiotics exactly as prescribed, if needed;

Stay healthy and keep others healthy by practicing good hand hygiene, covering coughs and staying home when sick; and

Get the flu vaccine!

To learn more about antibiotic resistance, go to www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use. 

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