16 November 2012
A new Antibiotic Awareness leaflet [external link] has been produced to encourage patients visiting their doctor with cold and flu symptoms not to ask for antibiotics for their treatment.
This is being launched on November 18 which marks European Antibiotics Awareness Day (EAAD). This Day aims to raise awareness of the risks associated with the inappropriate use of antibiotics and how to use them responsibly.
The leaflet is designed to encourage a dialogue between the doctor and patient about why they were not prescribed antibiotics today and reminds patients that colds and most coughs, sinusitis, earache and sort throats often get better without antibiotics.
To reassure patients it gives details about how long these infections typically last, what they can do to ease their symptoms and when you, or your child, should go back to your GP practice or contact NHS Direct.
What are the signs that you should seek medical help?
The following is listed in order of urgency with the most urgent symptoms listed first:
Dr Cliodna McNulty, the HPA’s lead on EAAD said: “As we have seen in previous HPA research a lot of people with coughs, colds and flu still visit the doctor expecting to be given antibiotics for their treatment and it can be difficult for the doctor to refuse.
“This expectation puts a lot of pressure on the doctor to prescribe antibiotics which is often not necessary and cause increased antimicrobial resistance in the long run. Bacteria will always adapt to try and survive the effects of the antibiotic and we have seen that the problem of resistance is growing. “GP patients who have had antibiotics in the last 6 months are twice as likely to have an infection with resistant bacteria.” This is why it is very important that we preserve the antibiotics that we have by not prescribing them where they are not necessary so that they are effective when we really do need them.
In addition to the contributions from the HPA this leaflet has been developed in association with the Royal College of General Practitioners, The British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, NHS Scotland, Royal College of Nursing, Infection Prevention Society and the British Infection Association.
Amended: Monday 19 November 2012
Last reviewed: 19 November 2012