Using antibiotics wisely is everyone's responsibility

Date published: 17 November 2017

It's everyone's responsibility to use antibiotics responsibly. They are not effective against viral infections, including colds and flu. Antibiotic overuse is a serious problem and a potentially a threat to everyone’s health. You should be guided by your GP as to whether or not you need an antibiotic.

How we can all help

Antibiotic resistance is a threat to human health and to medicines worldwide.  Over-use and misuse of antibiotics could mean that in the future even the simplest infections cannot be treated and the most straightforward operations cannot be done. 

This is an issue that affects every single one of us and could have devastating consequences. It is vital that we tackle this problem urgently so we can safeguard the health of ourselves, our children, and future generations.

We can all do something to help prevent the growth of antibiotic resistance.

GPs, dentists, and patients have a role to play in reducing amount of antibiotics prescribed.

Some of the easy ways to help:

  • practice good hand hygiene to help prevent the spread of infection in the first place - wash your hands after using the bathroom, before preparing or eating food, after coughing or sneezing, or if your hands are visibly dirty
  • if you don’t need antibiotics, for instance for viral infections like a cold or flu, don’t take them
  • speak to your GP or pharmacist before you ask for an antibiotic - don’t demand antibiotics from your GP, they will make the decision on whether you need them or not
  • if you're prescribed antibiotics, finish the course or medication (even if you start to feel better) and never share medication with anyone else

You can find more information about using antibiotics wisely at this link: 

Colds or flu

If you have a cold or flu, antibiotics will not work. Instead, rest, fluids, paracetamol and if necessary a decongestant and/ or cough bottle, should relieve the symptoms.

You can find useful information on the pages below:

Using antibiotics in agriculture

Antibiotics are essential medicines for treating bacterial infections in animals. Everyone using antibiotics in agriculture should make sure they are used responsibly to ensure they remain effective.

Livestock owners are urged to take every possible action to prevent disease by having good farm management, biosecurity, and animal husbandry. This will help reduce the need for antibiotics.

Pledge to be an 'antibiotic guardian'

Everyone, from healthcare professionals, veterinary practitioners to the general public, is being asked to become an 'antibiotic guardian' by making a pledge.

You can select the pledge relevant to you on the antibiotic guardian website.

More useful links

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