TDHS 2019 Graduate Nurse Samantha Spokes

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week

(File photo taken prior to COVID-19): Infection Control Nurse Sam Smokes with aged care resident Sam Bamford.

As our newly appointed Infection Control Nurse, Sam Spokes, knows all too well that misuse and overuse of antimicrobials, including antibiotics, are a major factor in increasing the rate at which antimicrobials resistance is occurring.

Continuing on from World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (18 – 24 November), Sam would like our community to join the fight and use antibiotics wisely, so they remain effective in treating serious disease.

What are antibiotics used for?

Antibiotics are valuable and useful medicines that treat bacterial infections. Used in the right way, antibiotics save lives.

Antibiotics do not treat infections caused by viruses, such as:

  • Colds and flu
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • Most coughs and bronchitis
  • Most sore throats.

Taking antibiotics for these infections won’t help – but it may increase the risk of antimicrobial resistance and your chances of experiencing side effects like nausea and diarrhoea.

Antibiotics not only kill the bad bacteria that can make you sick, but they can also kill the good bacteria that keep you healthy. Without these good bacteria, other types of bacteria have more room to grow, possibly leading to other infections. Overusing antibiotics leads to antibiotic resistance or antibiotic-resistant infections.

What can you do to help?

1: You can prevent spreading germs by:

  • Washing your hands after sneezing or touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Coughing into your elbow
  • Staying away from work or school if you are unwell
  • Having the vaccinations your doctor recommends for you
  • Ensuring your home environment is clean.

2: If you do get sick:

  • Ask what you can do to feel better and ease your symptoms while your body recovers – especially for viral infections such as the flu, where antibiotics will not help to make you better
  • Let your doctor know that you are worried about antibiotic resistance and only want an antibiotic if you really need it
  • Ask your doctor if a test can be used to identify what caused your infection.

3: If your doctor prescribes an antibiotic:

  • Make sure you know exactly how long to take the antibiotic
  • Never take leftover antibiotics or give them to someone else
  • Don’t keep any repeats of the prescription ‘just in case’ of future sickness – always see your doctor each time
  • Ask about the risks of taking the antibiotic and whether it can affect your other medicines.

For more information please visit Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

You can also partake in their quiz by clicking here and the answers might surprise you😊

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