12 Nov 2018

This week (12th to 18th November) is World Antibiotic Awareness Week and NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group along with St Helens Council is reminding members of the public about the appropriate use of antibiotics.

Antibiotics are important medicines that must only be used to treat bacterial infections.

There is a general misconception that antibiotics can treat general winter conditions that are caused by viruses such as some coughs, colds and flu. But remember that antibiotics don't work against infections caused by viruses. These conditions often get better without antibiotics, as your body can usually fight these infections on its own.

The best way to treat most colds, coughs or sore throats is to drink plenty of fluids and to rest. There are many over the counter remedies to ease the symptoms such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. Your local pharmacist can advise you on the most effective treatment.

The inappropriate use of antibiotics to treat viral infections has led to certain bacteria becoming antibiotic resistant. This has a knock-on effect when treating life-threatening bacterial infections, such as MRSA, which is currently resistant to several antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is one of our biggest health threats.

Nicola Cartwright, Assistant Director for Medicines Management at NHS St Helens CCG said: “Antibiotics resistance is a dangerous threat. If we do not act now, some infections could become untreatable.

If you take antibiotics when you don’t need them, it allows bacteria to build up resistance. This means, they’re less likely to work in the future, when you really might need them’’.

“We know that antibiotics are not effective in treating colds and other flu-like symptoms. So, if you are experiencing these types of symptoms you should drink plenty of fluids, rest and if you need some pain relief take paracetamol.”

If you need advice fast and you’re not sure what to do, call 111 for health care advice that is fast, easy and free. In some areas, you can also access NHS 111 online. To see if you can access help from NHS 111 online in your area, visit: https://111.nhs.uk/ and enter your postcode