This week is World Antibiotic Awareness Week. It is an annual observance that highlights the steps everyone can take to improve antibiotic prescribing and use.
Antibiotics can save lives and are critical tools for treating a number of common and more serious infections, like those that can lead to sepsis. At least 28% of antibiotics prescribed in U.S. outpatient settings are unnecessary and each year, enough prescriptions are written in outpatient settings to give five out of every six people one antibiotic prescription.
Any time antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance, one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health.
Antibiotic resistance happens when germs, like bacteria and fungi, develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. Each year in the United States, more than 2.8 million infections from bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics occur and more than 35,000 people die as a direct result. Many more die from complications from antibiotic-resistant infections.
Though antibiotics are a safe treatment that doctors have been using for decades to fight infections and disease, it is important to be mindful of their use. When we take antibiotics, it kills the bad bacteria that is causing the infection, as well as good bacteria. We need good bacteria in our systems to keep our bodies functioning optimally. Taking probiotics while on antibiotics is a smart move because it helps balance the bacteria in the body, so that there are still good bacteria in the gut. It is also important to take antibiotics exactly as prescribed to decrease the risk of developing resistance. This means taking them for the entire length prescribed, because some patients tend to stop taking their antibiotics when they start feeling better, but the infection can come back even stronger. Foods that are high in probiotics include: yogurt, kefir, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, miso, kombucha, and cottage cheese. Probiotics can come in many forms, as supplements and powders. Always ask your doctor for advice as to what is the healthiest choice for you!
World Antibiotic Awareness Week aims to increase awareness of global antibiotic resistance and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.One of the key objectives of the plan is to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance through effective communication, education and training.