How YOU can stop antibiotic resistance

Your prescription to help stop antibiotic resistance...
05 December 2016

Interview with 

Dr Nick Brown, Addenbrookes Hospital


Your prescription to help stop antibiotic resistance with Nick Brown and Graihagh Jackson, beginning with why you should finish your course of antibiotics...

Nick - It's quite possible that the infection that you had will either come back or relapse in some way and need further antibiotics in the future. And, unfortunately, because resistance can develop within you, as well as within the population of bacteria, it's quite possible that the next time round you won't respond to the antibiotic that you're given.

Graihagh - Number 2 - don't use your friends, presumably this is because you might not be treating the correct infection and I guess that's bad for exactly the same reasons that you've just stated?

Nick - Yes. And I think it's very important to stress that people shouldn't access antibiotics themselves. There are a number of ways that you can do that - some legal and some not so legal.

Graihagh - like on the internet maybe?

Nick - Absolutely yes. And you should always access antibiotics through a registered prescriber.

Graihagh - I didn't even know you could order antibiotics on the internet actually!

Number 4 - Don't pressure your doctor for antibiotics for a cold?  I know that's a virus now after this show but is it just that you're making your doctor feel pressured and, I suppose, the other side of that is that's not very nice really?

Nick - Yes, and I think it's important that people know what to expect from a viral infection as well, not just that viruses don't respond to antibiotics. But, for example, if you have a sore throat, you may still have symptoms six or seven days after it started. If you have bronchitis, it can go on for three weeks, which is really quite a long time and, if you don't appreciate that, then you may be worried and go to your doctor expecting antibiotics. It's important to get proper advice if you are failing to get better, but if you know what to expect in various situations, then perhaps you'd be happier to go to a pharmacy.

Graihagh - So trust your doctor.

And lastly, number 5 - wash your hands. I know this is pretty obvious given what we've just been talking about, but how long for? I've heard it's as long as you can sing happy birthday - is that right?

Nick - Or yankee doodle is the other one. Yes, probably longer than we all do it at the moment is the easy answer, perhaps. But certainly, washing your hands is one of the most effective ways that you can stop any infection from being transferred from one person to another.

Graihagh - And hand sanitiser versus soap?

Nick - What we do in hospitals is say that if you hands are physically clean, that is they're not covered in dirt, then an alcohol sanitiser is absolutely fine. If they're dirty you do need to wash them because, unfortunately, alcohol will fix dirt onto your hands.

Graihagh - Um - lovely!

Chris - And the other thing you need to bear in mind of course is that lots of these viruses that live on your skin are not vulnerable to alcohol so you end up with a pure culture of norovirus, or rhinovirus or whatever else. So you should just wash your hands.


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