Antibiotics consumption is rising again, despite warnings over their misuse. Deborah Cohen asks the experts how we can avoid taking them unnecessarily Charlotte Hays is a busy working mother.
She admits that she knows antibiotics don't work for coughs and colds, but that doesn't stop her from going to her GP to get them for minor infections. "I know about antibiotic resistance, but it's a bit like climate change - it's someone else's problem," she says. Hays, it seems, is not alone in this attitude. Despite multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis challenging healthcare workers globally (although it is not yet present in the UK) and evidence that other harmful bacteria are becoming resistant faster than we can create new drugs, antibiotic use is on the rise again.Hays puts her reliance on antibiotics down to her busy schedule. "I can't wait for the illness to take its course. I want antibiotics to make it go away."
Recent research led by Dr Andrew Hayward, a senior lecturer in infectious disease epidemiology at University College London, found that, despite official guidelines, GPs are prescribing too many antibiotics for common infections. His survey, published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, showed that antibiotic prescription varied widely according to the condition, with 44% of upper respiratory tract infections (coughs and colds), 64% of sore throats over 80% of chest infections and sinusitis receiving prescriptions for antibiotics.
"The majority of simple coughs, colds and sore throats are viral, and those that are bacterial only benefit a little from antibiotics because they will get better anyway. GPs are prescribing more antibiotics than necessary for these conditions," Hayward says.
Source - Guardian