NC DHHS Warns Overuse of Antibiotics Can Be Unsafe; Get Smart - Know When Antibiotics Work

Raleigh, NC

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Public Health (DPH) is encouraging the public and healthcare providers to use antibiotics carefully and appropriately to reduce the growth of antibiotic resistance, particularly during flu season. Unnecessary and inappropriate uses of antibiotics are primary causes of the increase in drug-resistant bacteria that can lead to serious illness or death.
 
"During flu season, people often feel symptoms that can be uncomfortable and immediately request or are prescribed antibiotics,” said Acting State Health Director Megan Davies, M.D. “We don’t want people to destroy the good bacteria that they have. Antibiotics are vitally important and often life-saving drugs. Overuse can cause unwanted side effects and can lead to infections that are difficult to treat or untreatable."
 
Governor Pat McCrory proclaimed Nov. 16-22 as “Get Smart – Know When Antibiotics Work Week” in North Carolina to increase awareness. DPH is currently participating in the national campaign, Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work, which aims to reduce the growth of antibiotic resistance by raising awareness.
 
To limit antibiotic resistance, DPH is asking the public and providers to be aware that:

  • Antibiotics do not cure viruses, such as those that cause colds or flu, most coughs, runny nose, bronchitis and sore throats not caused by strep.
  • Increased antibiotic resistance compromises the effectiveness of antibiotics.
  • Patients, healthcare providers, hospital administrators and policy makers must work together to encourage appropriate antibiotic use, a practice that may ultimately help save lives.

What To Do:

  • Talk with your healthcare provider about antibiotic resistance.
  • Ask your doctor which over-the-counter medicines can help with symptom relief.
  • Take a prescribed course of antibiotics exactly as directed by the doctor. Never take antibiotics that were prescribed for someone else.
  • Complete the prescribed course of antibiotics, even if you are feeling better. If treatment stops too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect you.
  • If you or a loved one is in a hospital or other health care facility, make sure those caring for you have washed their hands properly, and ask your health care providers what they are doing to prevent you from getting an infection.

Additional information about the Get Smart campaign is available at http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/antibiotics.html

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