Whelehans Pharmacy: Antibiotic overuse

Tuesday, 12th February, 2019 9:33am

Whelehans Pharmacy: Antibiotic overuse


Ask your pharmacist

Antibiotic Overuse becoming a major threat to public health (Part 1)

Eamonn Brady is a pharmacist and the owner of Whelehans Pharmacies, Pearse St and Clonmore, Mullingar. If you have any health questions e-mail them to info@whelehans.ie

Antibiotic overuse is a major cause of the rise of resistant strains of bacteria including superbugs such as MRSA and previously eradicated tuberculosis. Antibiotics should only be prescribed for confirmed and severe bacterial infections. They should not be prescribed for viral infections which are the cause of over 80% of colds and flus. Increased levels of resistance, coupled with the lack of new antibiotics coming on stream, means there is a risk that we could return to the ‘pre-antibiotic era’ if this overuse is not addressed. This will not only cripple our ability to fight routine infections but will also undermine the treatment of more complicated infections, especially in patients with chronic diseases and could make many surgeries impossible.

It is concerning that, at a time when we should be reducing our use of antibiotics, in the first half of 2018 the rate of antibiotic consumption in Ireland increased, with Irish people taking 7% more antibiotics than they were 15 years ago.

HSE Antibiotic awareness campaign
The HSE campaign has the key message that “Taking Antibiotics for colds and flu? There’s no point. By taking antibiotics when they aren’t needed means that they will not work when you really need them for a serious infection. Taking antibiotics for a viral illness, such as a cold or flu, is of no benefit to you and is a waste of a precious life-saving resource. If antibiotics are taken when they are not needed, it enables bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics.  This means that antibiotics may not work for infections when you really need them such as serious blood infections and pneumonia.  The bacteria are developing resistance faster than the pharmaceutical industry can develop new antibiotics. The world is fast running out of antibiotics.

No need to see a doctor for colds and flus
Seeing a doctor when you have a cold or flu is a waste of your money on GP fees and prescription fees and, in the case of medical card holders, a waste of taxpayers’ money. It is also a waste of your time to visit a GP for a cold or flu as you must take time off work, travel to the GP surgery and pharmacy. GPs surgeries are being unnecessarily blocked up in Ireland with people visiting them for cold and flus and it reduces accessibility for people who have genuine reasons to see the GP.

What the experts say?
Dr. Fidelma Fitzpatrick, Consultant Microbiologist and HSE Clinical Head for the Prevention of Healthcare-associated Infection explains “Antibiotics have revolutionised the way we treat patients with bacterial infections and have saved many lives since their introduction in the middle of the last century. …. we are using more and more antibiotics each year in Ireland and are seeing more infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria (such as S. pneumonia a cause of pneumonia and meningitis) or infections due to antibiotics (such as Clostridium difficile infection) as a result.  If we don’t take-action now, we risk wasting one of the most important medical advances of the past 100 years.”

To be continued next week

For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans Pharmacies, log on to www.whelehans.ie or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore).



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