Let’s keep our medicines working. Did you know that not finishing your antibiotic or taking it incorrectly risks us losing its effectiveness in the future?
When disease caused by infections no longer responds to medicines that used to work, we call it antimicrobial resistance. To treat what was once a treatable infection may then require more expensive medications or medicine with more serious side effects. In some cases, treatment may be much more difficult, resulting in poor outcomes and even death.
We have very effective and safe antibiotics, a well-known one is a penicillin. Imagine if penicillin no longer worked for your infection. You may say that we have other antibiotics, but the type of infection you have can limit which antibiotic would work for you. You are further limited if you are allergic to one of them.
Now, imagine if you caught an infection that could not be treated, and that worsened if you had a weakened immune system so that even a minor infection might have severe consequences.
Resistant infections are growing and we risk losing the medications we have relied on to treat and prevent severe illness and deaths if we take our medicines for granted. Sharing medications, taking expired products, not taking medicines on time, or not completely clearing your infection can result in the development of resistant infections.
This can happen with an infection that you haven’t treated completely, requiring a start of a more expensive medicine with more side effects or lengthier treatment. If it spreads, treatment becomes more difficult, and may even infect others with your superbug.
Taking medication properly is one of the things we can all do to prevent the growth or development of “resistant” bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungal infections. To do this:
- Take only medication prescribed for you
- Your medication is specific for your current infection
- Follow the directions provided (timing, empty stomach, or with food)
- Finish all of your medication, even if you feel infection-free
- If your infection has not cleared up after finishing all your medicine, contact your doctor to see if you need to get more or need to change medication
- Don’t save unused medication – return them to your pharmacy for proper disposal
We all have a role to play, and spreading awareness of antimicrobial resistance is vital to keeping our medicines working. Please spread the word. Your pharmacist can answer questions about your anti-infective medications, and any concerns you may have about taking them.