Antibiotic Awareness (for patients)

Antibiotic Awareness (for patients)


Antibiotics are a class of medications
that either kill bacteria or stop them from multiplying and making copies of
themselves. So either way they help treat bacterial infections. It’s important to
use antibiotics when we know that we’re dealing with a bacterial infection. So
for example strep throat. We know that that’s caused by a particular kind of
bacteria. Most the time when people are sick, they have a viral infection. And
many people will think that they have a bacterial infection and will ask for an
antibiotic, but in fact that’s not the appropriate treatment for that kind of
infection. So my strongest recommendation to patients and parents is to listen to
your health care provider, whoever it is. Your dentist, your physician assistant, a
nurse practitioner, physician. And if they feel after doing an examination and
listening to your story that you do not have a bacterial infection, please do not
pressure them to give you an antibiotic prescription. When people have a viral infection, sadly
there’s not much to do other than to rest, drink fluids. As a parent when you
have a sick child, it’s really tough because you want to do something for
your child. And honestly the best thing is to give them lots of tender loving
care, and give them some comforting medications that are over-the-counter. Just to help take care of the symptoms that we’re suffering from. But antibiotics
won’t help in those cases. There are risks with taking virtually any kind of
medication, but we are really careful about antibiotics. Because they can cause
things like diarrhea, rashes, really significant allergic reactions. So when
we prescribe one, we want to make sure that we’re treating something that
really requires an antibiotic. One of the biggest concerns we have with
prescribing antibiotics is causing something called antibiotic resistance. And this comes about when we use an antibiotic to treat an infection, or what
we think is an infection. It kills off a number of bacteria. But then there’s a
certain number of bacteria that are left that have either some inherent
resistance already or they create it. And now those bacteria are left behind and
are multiplying. And then it becomes much more difficult to treat them with simple
antibiotics going forward. It’s not us that’s resistant, it’s the bacteria
that’s resistant. And we can spread that to others, and that’s really where the
problem comes in. There are a number of things that we can
do to try and prevent infection. Getting immunizations, getting plenty of sleep,
taking care of ourselves, not smoking, trying to eat properly. These are all
things that help boost our immune systems. And unfortunately many of us are
so busy and are stressed and we can’t take care of ourselves the way that we
could or should to try and prevent infection. If people have leftover antibiotics or
other medications that they want to get rid of, we recommend that they do not
flush it down the toilet. That they don’t put it down the sink that they don’t
throw it away in the garbage can, but instead find a place that has a take
back box. And many police stations and pharmacies will have them. And these are
easy to find online. Antibiotics are not used in just humans.
They’re used in animals as well. And in Minnesota, professionals in human health,
animal health and environmental health are all coming together. And we’re
realizing that it’s important to address all of this. Because we’re all in this
together. And if we take care of the earth and our animals and our people and
are really aware of antibiotic stewardship, we can really make a
difference.

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