RIDOH: Patients should use antibiotics as prescribed

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PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – In an effort to prevent antibiotic resistance, the Rhode Island Department of Health is emphasizing the importance of using medications correctly.

The Department of Health hopes to prevent the rapid rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which is described as “one of the most pressing public health threats in the United States today.”

The recall is part of national education efforts during Antibiotic Awareness Weekwhich started last Friday and runs until Thanksgiving.

Antibiotic resistance, according to the Ministry of Healthdoes not mean that the body becomes resistant to the drugs, but rather that the bacteria responsible for the infection develop the ability to overcome the treatment designed to kill them.

“When bacteria become resistant, antibiotics cannot fight them and the bacteria multiply,” the health ministry said. “Some resistant bacteria can be difficult or impossible to treat and can spread to other people.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur each year nationwide and that more than 35,000 Americans die from them.

“People should only use antibiotics when necessary, and antibiotics should be used exactly as prescribed,” the Department of Health said.

Rhode Island’s acting health director, Dr. Utpala Bandy, said while it can be frustrating to walk out of a doctor’s appointment without a prescription, antibiotics aren’t always the answer and can sometimes make things worse.

“By taking antibiotics when they’re not appropriate, people are putting themselves at risk for serious side effects while compromising our ability to use antibiotics as a vital tool for future generations,” Bandy explained.

The CDC and the Rhode Island Department of Health encourage patients to consider the following:

  • Learn about antibiotics. Antibiotics don’t work on viruses, such as those that cause COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus, colds, flu, bronchitis, or runny nose, even if the mucus is thick, yellow, or green.
  • Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about alternatives to antibiotics.
  • While your body is fighting a virus, painkillers, fever reducers, saline nasal sprays or drops, warm compresses, fluids, and rest can help you feel better.
  • If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about your antibiotics.
  • Do your best to stay healthy and keep others healthy by washing your hands, covering coughs, staying home when sick, and getting vaccinated like the flu shot.
  • Do not share prescription drugs.

The Health Department encourages patients to speak with their health care provider if they develop side effects from antibiotics, including rashes, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, or yeast infections.

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