The days of doctors prescribing antibiotics unnecessarily are over, or soon will be. According to the CDC, an astounding two million people each year are identified as having an antibiotic-resistant strain of disease, and a full 23,000 of them die as a result. The reason? Over-prescribing of antibiotics, or prescribing them when unnecessary. The truth is, it’s been estimated that as many as half of all prescribed antibiotics are unnecessary and unhelpful.
As reported by Lauri Hicks, DO, medical epidemiologist at CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, and medical director for the Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work program, “The reasons for this high frequency of inappropriate prescribing are complex. The most common justifications are diagnostic uncertainty, severe illness, and concern for patient satisfaction during their visit.”
Typically, individuals have asked for an antibiotic for an upper respiratory illness, and doctors have agreed, even though antibiotics are not effective in relieving viral infections. The switch currently is for doctors to recommend over-the-counter treatments, together with a delayed prescription – to be filled later on if signs and symptoms persist.
For older adults, it’s particularly vital to guarantee antibiotics are prescribed only once truly warranted, in order to reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance. The CDC advises taking the following steps:
- Precautionary measures. Get vaccines for flu, pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, varicella/zoster meningococcal, and hepatitis, as recommended. Be diligent in personal cleanliness, such as thorough hand-washing routinely throughout the day, and always before eating and immediately after using the bathroom. And, try to avoid close contact with other people who are sick.
- Minimize antibiotic use. It is essential that we all modify our mindset in regards to the use of antibiotics, knowing that while they’re truly helpful under specific situations, they must be avoided for routine viral infections. Talk to your physician to consider the pros and cons when an antibiotic is advised.
- Be sure that any problems are documented. In the event you suffer from antibiotic resistance, be sure to have your doctor report it. The CDC is amassing data to record information about antibiotic-resistant infections, factors behind those infections, and risk factors, in order to help prevent or decrease the number of occurrences.
Development of new antibiotics and diagnostic tests is a continuous process to try to stay in front of resistant bacteria. Dr. Michael Bell, deputy director for the CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, shares, “We are approaching a cliff. If we don’t take steps to slow or stop drug resistance, we will fall back to a time when simple infections killed people.”
We should all do our part to help counter this harmful trend! Email or call Live Free Home Health Care, the Bristol home health care specialists, for further information about how we can help, such as through accompanying seniors to healthcare appointments and to receive vaccinations, by making sure that the household environment is clean and sanitary, by providing healthy meals to increase overall health, and so much more. Give us a call at 603-217-0149 to learn about our professional home care services in your area and how we help keep the senior loved ones you adore healthy and thriving!