Your Healthy Family: How to swing the tide in the spread of anti - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Your Healthy Family: How to swing the tide in the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria

Antibiotics are life saving drugs and they're very important to modern medicine. Antibiotics are life saving drugs and they're very important to modern medicine.

When you consider the problem of more and more strains of bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics, it’s a problem that reaches further than just not being able to have antibiotics potentially heal us when we get sick.

Alex Novin is a Infectious Disease Clinical Pharmacist with UCHealth Memorial say's, “Antibiotics are life saving drugs and they're very important to modern medicine.  Surgery, chemotherapy, and transplants are exponentially safer having these drugs available.  If people start overusing, or misusing antibiotics and then we get a lot of resistant organisms we may not have bacteria that can be treated easily and then those operations and procedures become a lot more dangerous.”

Alex says unlike other health issues such as heart disease, drug resistance can be spread from person to person.  “Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, but heart disease in you, won't affect heart disease in me.  Whereas if you have an infection and we give you antibiotics and you then make resistant bacteria, even if I've never received antibiotics that can get passed on to me or cause problems for me.”

And because bacteria can be spread, the issue of antibiotics becoming resistant to them is a global problem says Alex.  “Antibiotic resistance is variable depending on whether you're in this country or another country, but we kind of learned that with Ebola that anything's really only a plane ride away anymore.  We can't ignore this problem domestically or nationally.”

While much of the responsibility of responsibly prescribing antibiotics falls to doctors, Alex also says there are many things each of us can do every day to help begin to the turn the tide against the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria and keep medications effective.

Stay up to date on your vaccines

“It's good to be up to date on your vaccine so that you don't get infections in the first place.

Practice good hand hygiene

“Good hand hygiene and good hand washing practices are key.  If your hands are dirty that's one of the primary ways that germs get spread around the environment and to different people.

Make sure your food is properly cooked

“Make sure that your food is cooked well enough to prevent food borne illnesses.  We see a spike of that in the summertime when people go out and start grilling.”

Make sure you drink safe water

“Making sure drinking from safe water sources is important because you don't want to get an infectious diarrhea, which may require antibiotics.”

Never use leftover, or antibiotics prescribed to someone else

“You never want to use leftover antibiotics from a previous treatment, or someone else's antibiotics because if you haven't been diagnosed appropriately those may not even be the right antibiotics for you.  Many infections are not caused by bacteria, so colds, the flu, most sinus infections or sore throats, and some ear infections are mostly caused by a virus.  Using antibiotics for those infections will really only predispose you to risks from the antibiotics.  You can have an adverse reaction to the antibiotics.  People develop rashes or discover they're allergic to them for the first time, and because you are making resistant bacteria, that can also make you sick later.”

Don’t insist that your doctor prescribe you antibiotics

“Don't insist that an antibiotic be given to you.  The health care providers are going to assess you and diagnose you and figure out what the best treatment for you is.”

If you think people never make those kinds of demands that doctors give into, Alex says, “There was a survey done of about 800 clinicians, and 1,200 patients that shows about 10% to 25% of clinicians and patients are actually either prescribing or requesting antibiotics for reasons that are not the best.  Such as ‘I can't stay home from work’ or the patient demanded the doctor prescribe an antibiotic to them.”

Finally Alex says If you have any questions about anything your doctor is prescribing, don't hesitate to ask a lot of questions about both the pro's and con's of any medication.  Yes, doctors are the medical expert, but you know yourself best so make sure to advocate for yourself with them.

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