This is a global initiative led by the World Health Organisation. It 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 drug-resistant infections (so-called ‘superbugs’).
The importance of this is to ensure that antibiotics continue to work for those that need them.
Reasons for thinking more carefully about our antibiotic use include:
- many infections are caused by viruses, so antibiotics are not effective
- antibiotics are often unlikely to speed up the healing process and can cause side effects
- the more antibiotics are used to treat trivial conditions, the more likely they are to become ineffective for treating more serious conditions
This is the simplest and one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of infection.
It is especially important to wash hands before preparing food, after blowing your nose, and after using the toilet or changing a nappy.
Covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
Coughing and sneezing increases the number of particles released by a person, as well as the distance those particles travel, and the time they stay suspended in the air.
An infected person who coughs or sneezes without covering their mouth or nose significantly increases the risk of infecting others around them.
Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough using a disposable tissue then dispose of the used tissue in a bin as soon as you can, then and wash your hands thoroughly, or use a hand sanitiser. If you don’t have a tissue sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow, not into your hand.
Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent many infectious diseases. Many of us will have vaccinations when we are children to protect us from infections as we grow up. There are some vaccines offered later in life too, such as flu, covid, and shingles. Most vaccines are aimed at protecting against viral infections, as these cannot be treated with antibiotics.
Self-care for common illnesses is important, and below is some information that can be helpful to find out how to manage some common illnesses, as well as when to seek help for them.
You can also look up most common illness on the NHS Health A to Z or use the search box to find what you are looking for. If you want advice, you can use 111 online.
For information and support when your child is unwell, you can use the NHS site as above, 111, or you may find Healthier Together 0-18 helpful – although it was produced in Hampshire, it can be viewed from anywhere.
Information is also available on the Self Care Forum fact sheets on a variety of conditions.
Antibiotics are medicines that are used to treat or prevent bacterial infections. Bacteria are one cause of infection, but not the only cause. Antibiotics do not work for viral or fungal infections.
Many mild bacterial infections get better on their own without using antibiotics.
When you see a clinician at the surgery, they will decide with you if antibiotics are needed.
It is important to take antibiotics as prescribed, and not to save them or share them with others, as they will have been selected to treat you taking into account the type of infection and any allergies or drug interactions that may occur.
Worried about Sepsis?
Sepsis is important to know about and be aware of. It starts with an infection, and is a situation where having effective antibiotics is vital. Part of the reason for using antibiotics carefully is to keep them effective when they are most needed.
Published: Nov 18, 2023
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