DVIDS – News – Be Aware of Antibiotics; misuse can lead to ineffective drugs


By V. Hauschild, MPH, US Army Public Health Center
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The Army Public Health Center promotes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week, Nov. 18-24.

The CDC slogan is “BE AWARE OF ANTIBIOTICS. SMART USE. THE BEST CARE. The annual campaign aims to raise awareness of the critical need for proper antibiotic use, what constitutes antibiotic misuse and the side effects of antibiotics.

Why the concern?
Many common infections become more difficult and sometimes impossible to treat as routine antibiotics become less effective. When antibiotics become less effective, people are then at risk of becoming seriously ill or even dying from infections that were previously curable, such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and gonorrhea. The impacts can mean longer hospital stays, increased medical costs and more deaths, such as those from sepsis.

Most people have taken antibiotics at some point in their lives. Commonly prescribed antibiotics include penicillins, cephalosporins, and tetracyclines. These are used to treat bacterial infections such as strep throat, urinary tract infections, ‘pink eye’ (conjunctivitis) and sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea.

Antibiotics are designed to kill bacterial infections or prevent bacteria from reproducing, thereby eliminating infections and their symptoms. But they do not cure all types of infections. Importantly, antibiotics do NOT work on viruses such as those that cause colds, flu, COVID-19, or herpes.

“Antibiotics have effectively treated mild to severe illnesses and saved countless lives,” says Major Christine Basca, staff officer for the Army Public Health Nurses Division at the Army Public Health Center. US Army. “But many of the antibiotics that we have relied on for many years to cure common diseases will become – or are already becoming – ineffective due to antimicrobial resistance.”

Antibiotic resistance means that the bacteria that live in and on our bodies have developed the ability to defeat antibiotics designed to kill them.

The CDC now considers antibiotic resistance one of the most pressing threats to public health. More than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur each year in the United States and more than 35,000 people die from them.

What is the cause of the problem?
The two main reasons for antibiotic resistance are—

• Take antibiotics when they are not needed or when you don’t know if an infection is bacterial or viral. Unfortunately, people sometimes get unnecessary antibiotics from a health care provider or use a prescription from a friend or family member. This may mean that a person is less likely to benefit from the drug’s effectiveness if needed for a future bacterial infection.

• Do not complete the entire treatment period to completely kill bacteria. Sometimes people don’t take the full prescription once they start to feel better, or they stop if they experience unpleasant side effects. As a result, the remaining bacteria can survive and reproduce, and an incompletely treated infection can recur.

Respiratory infections, such as colds and flu, are particularly common reasons people seek antibiotics from their health care provider at this time of year. As these infections are viral, antibacterial antibiotics are not effective against them. Their use in the treatment of viral infections is one reason for the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.

Gonorrhea is an example of an antibiotic resistant threat
The public health crisis caused by STIs has been steadily worsening for years. The CDC estimates that approximately 1.6 million new gonorrhea infections occur each year in the United States, making it the second most common reportable infectious disease in the country. Gonorrhea also continues to be a common infection among army soldiers.

Although gonorrhea can progress if left untreated, the good news is that when diagnosed, gonorrhea is effectively treated with an antibiotic, often a single injection. The bad news is that gonorrhea infections are becoming increasingly resistant to the usual antibiotics that treated them effectively in the past.

Basca and her APHC colleagues, like Nikki Jordan, a senior epidemiologist who has studied military STIs, describe gonorrhea as a prime example of a disease affected by antibiotic resistance. Jordan says the phenomenon of antibiotic resistance likely contributed to soaring gonorrhea infection rates in the US population; they have almost doubled since 2009.

The CDC has classified gonorrhea in its highest severity category of antibiotic-resistant infections. Since emerging resistance remains a concern, patients with gonorrhea are strongly encouraged to be reassessed by their health care provider if their symptoms do not resolve within a few days of treatment.

What can you do?
Public health experts from the CDC and the military especially want you to remember these important facts to help reduce antibiotic resistance and increase the likelihood that antibiotics can save you and your loved ones from bacterial infections. the future :

• Antibiotics can save lives. When you need antibiotics, the benefits outweigh the risks of side effects and antibiotic resistance.

• BUT –
o Antibiotics are only needed to treat some infections caused by bacteria, but even some bacterial infections are cured without antibiotics. Antibiotics are not needed for many sinus infections, some ear infections, and minor skin infections.
o Antibiotics do NOT treat viruses, such as those that cause colds, flu, or COVID-19. An antibiotic probably won’t help you feel better if you have a virus. Upper respiratory tract infections caused by viruses usually clear up within a week or two without treatment. Ask your healthcare professional about the best way to feel better while your body fights the virus.
o Antibiotics do not treat fungal diseases; antifungal medications are needed for these.
o Antibiotics will not treat parasitic infections like malaria, Giardia diarrhea or pinworms.
o When antibiotics are not needed, they will not help you; in fact, the side effects can harm you. Side effects can range from minor reactions, such as hives or gastrointestinal upset, to very serious health issues such as anaphylactic shock.

• If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. To avoid drug interactions, tell your healthcare provider about any antibiotic allergies you have, as well as any other medications you are taking. Talk to your healthcare provider if you develop any side effects, especially severe diarrhea, which may require immediate treatment.

• Never take leftover antibiotics or antibiotics prescribed for another person.

• Do your best to stay healthy and keep others healthy:
o Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, especially after using the toilet, before eating, before preparing food and after handling raw meat.
o Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
o Stay home when you are sick.
o Practice safe sex. Talk with your partner, get tested, use condoms, and take recommended vaccinations, such as the HPV vaccine.
o Make sure you and your family get the recommended vaccines.

• Bring unused or expired antibiotics to drug take-back sites, such as pharmacies (including military pharmacies). Dispose of antibiotics in household waste ONLY as a last resort. Do NOT flush antibiotics down the toilet or flush them down the sink drain.

Know that you are in the know! Check your knowledge of antibiotic use with this quiz on the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/quiz.html

The U.S. Army Public Health Center focuses on promoting healthy people, communities, animals, and workplaces through the prevention of disease, injury, and disability of soldiers, retirees, family members, veterans, civilian military employees, and animals through population-based surveillance, surveys, and technical consultations.

NOTE: Mention of any non-Federal entity and/or its products is for informational purposes only and should in no way be construed or construed as a Federal endorsement of such non-Federal entity or its products.

Date taken: 18.11.2022
Date posted: 18.11.2022 12:05
Story ID: 433544
Location: WE

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