COLORADO SPRINGS — Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released some pretty staggering numbers, estimating that more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections now happen every year in the U.S. resulting in 35,000 deaths. Misuse of antibiotics is accelerating antibiotic resistance, and more and more infections are becoming more difficult to treat as antibiotics become less effective.
It's now a problem that is found in every community. To make sure you are up to date on your basic antibiotic knowledge, Alex Novin, pharmacist and infectious disease clinical specialist with UCHealth Memorial, and Dr. Ian Tullberg, medical director of Urgent Care for UCHealth in southern Colorado, answer a few true and false questions for us.
True or False, antibiotics treat the flu and the common cold.
Alex says, “That is false. The flu and the common cold are caused by viruses, and antibiotics don't treat viruses. Many times people get antibiotics for viruses because they think it will make them feel better, but they don't. They will usually get better in 2 to 3 days without antibiotics.”
True or False, it's OK to stop taking antibiotics as soon as you start feeling better.
Dr. Tullberg says, “The answer is false. With antibiotics you need to make sure you take them for the appropriate course and the doctor is going to figure out what that is. Certain infections may be a little deeper in the body and need a little bit of extra time to take effect to make sure all the bacteria are killed. If you stop taking antibiotics too soon you might end up in a world of hurt and feeling a whole lot worse.”
True or False, next being up to date on my vaccines is a good way to avoid needing an antibiotic.
Alex says, “That is true. The best way to avoid needing antibiotics is not to get infected in the first place. Vaccines can actually prevent bacterial infections or viral infection and people with viruses might (wrongly) get treated with antibiotics. Often preventing either type of infection is going to cut down on antibiotic use. You have probably heard about how the flu shot is not very effective. When it’s given to a large population of people, even when it's 38 to 40 percent effective, that saves millions of people from medical visits and hundreds of thousands from getting hospitalized. Many adults don't get their flu and pneumonia shot, usually less than half, but they are very important because they can prevent those infections. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to find out what vaccines you may qualify for.”
In our next story, part 2 of our antibiotic basics quiz and to see the full report from the CDC, you can click HERE [cdc.gov] .
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