Get advice from a qualified healthcare professional before taking antibiotics
Healthcare professionals in Newham are supporting World Antibiotic Awareness Week (13-19 November) – a campaign encouraging responsible use of antibiotics to help keep them effective for the future.
Led by the World Health Organisation, the campaign is reminding people to always seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before taking antibiotics.
Antibiotics can be life-saving drugs, but if they are not used properly they might not work to fight the infections that make us ill.
The chances of antibiotics not working increases when they are not taken correctly, when the course of antibiotics is unfinished or if people take antibiotics intended for someone else or that were not prescribed for them by their GP or other NHS clinician.
People who overuse antibiotics can also build up a resistance to them. Resistance to antibiotics happens when bacteria change and become resistant to the antibiotics used to treat the infections they cause.
Dr Prakash Chandra, a local GP and chair of Newham Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "Antibiotic resistance is a serious problem for patient safety worldwide. The more we use antibiotics, the greater the chance bacteria will become resistant to them and no longer work on infections.
"If your GP decides you do need antibiotics, please always make sure you take them as instructed. You must finish the whole course and not save any for another time you feel ill or share them with others. By using them the right way, not only are you ensuring you and your family get the best treatment, responsible use of antibiotics will also help reduce the threat of antibiotic resistance."
Every winter there is a rise in people demanding antibiotics from their GP for viral infections such as colds and flu, but antibiotics do not kill viruses.
Dr Chandra added: "Your GP always advises in your best interest. It’s important that we all use antibiotics as prescribed by our doctor, as well as remembering that in some instances, like with a cold, antibiotics have no effect.
"When experiencing cold or flu symptoms, the best thing to do is drink plenty of water, get lots of rest and let your body fight the virus. If you need relief from symptoms such as a sore throat or aches and pains, your local pharmacist can recommend medicines that can help you – with no need for a prescription."