Friday, November 16, 2012

Get Smart About Antibiotics

What do sinusitis, most sore throats, bronchitis, runny noses and the regular cold have in common? They are upper respiratory tract infections usually caused by viruses that can′t be cured with antibiotics. Yet, each year, health care providers in the U.S. prescribe tens of millions of antibiotics for viral infections.

To bring attention to this increasing problem, Maine CDC is observing Get Smart About Antibiotics Week this week, along with the Maine Medical Association, Maine Hospital Association, and Maine Public Health Association.

The campaign highlights the coordinated efforts of US CDC, states, and other partners to educate clinicians and the public about antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic use.

Over-prescribing antibiotics, using a broad-spectrum therapy when a more specific drug would be better, starting and stopping medications, giving leftover medications to a friend who appears to have the same ailment you had, all contribute to the problem of antibiotic drug resistance, according to US CDC. As we enter this year′s cold and flu season, CDC asks parents to not insist on getting antibiotics when a health care provider says they are not needed.

Health care providers are asked to take the time to educate patients about antibiotic resistance and the possibility of having serious side effects. For example, allergic reactions to antibiotics, such as rash and anaphylaxis, send thousands of patients to the emergency room each year, according to a study published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases Journal.

Health care providers can also prevent antimicrobial resistance by ensuring prompt diagnosis and treatment of infections, prescribing antibiotics appropriately, and following infection prevention techniques to prevent the spread of drug-resistant infections in health care facilities. Doctors cite diagnostic uncertainty, time pressure, and patient demand as the primary reasons for their tendency to over-prescribe antibiotics. Appropriate use of existing antibiotics can limit the spread of antibiotic resistance, preserving antibiotics for the future.

For treatment guidelines for Upper Respiratory Tract Infections, see:

For more information about antimicrobial resistance, including background articles, patient materials, and continuing education programs, see

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