Antibiotic Awareness Week, 18th -24th November 2019

Antibiotic Awareness Week, 18th -24th November 2019

Antibiotics are strong lifesaving medications that fight and prevent infections.

Antibiotics do not work against the common cold and flu viruses. Antibiotics only work to treat conditions caused by bacteria, not those caused by viruses. However, despite their potency, antibiotics have limitations and sometimes may kill some protective bacteria and cause some harmful side-effects.

It is important to avoid unnecessary antibiotic use as this can lead to the rise in resistant bacteria causing what we refer to as ‘antibiotic resistance’.

Bacteria change when exposed to antibiotics in the body and develop characteristics that allow them to fight off or disable antibiotics. Bacteria that develop this ‘resistance’ are not killed and continue to multiply in your body. They can also be deposited in the environment (water, soil), or spread to others in your family, community, or in hospitals. Disease-causing bacteria that are ‘resistant’ become difficult or impossible to treat.

Overuse or misuse of antibiotics can cause bacteria to develop resistance to these drugs—making antibiotics less effective when you need them the most.

There are increasing reports of treatment failures around the world, where resistant bacterial infections are no longer responding to antibiotics. This has already been seen in some common infections, like pneumonia and gonorrhoea. Furthermore, many clinical procedures and routine operations like hip replacements, caesarean section, or appendix removal will become riskier. Without effective antibiotics, patients receiving chemotherapy and others with weakened immune systems will be poorly protected.

What can you do?

You can safeguard antibiotics and your health by using antibiotics cautiously, only when necessary, and only as prescribed to you for your particular illness, carefully following medical advice on the dose to take, and how long to take it.

Antibiotic Awareness Week promotes cautious and correct use of antibiotics to help prevent and control the spread of bacteria that develop resistance to the medications.

Responsible use of antibiotics can help slow the tide of increasing antibiotic-resistance.

For further information on treating infections and antibiotics, visit