HOUSTON – The Houston Health Department is raising awareness about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance during National Antibiotic Awareness Week, Nov. 12-18.
“When a patient needs antibiotics, the benefits outweigh the risk of side effects and antibiotic resistance,” said Dr. David Persse, Houston’s local health authority and EMS medical director. “However, the overuse of antibiotics is leading to the development superbug bacteria that antibiotics can’t fight.”
The health department advises patients and their families to use antibiotics only when necessary to further reduce antibiotic resistance, the spread of superbugs, and protect patients from side effects.
- Get the facts about antibiotics. Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as those that cause colds, flu, bronchitis, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow, or green. When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help you, and the side effects could still hurt you.
- Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about the best way to feel better.
- While your body fights off a virus, pain relievers, fever reducers, saline nasal spray or drops, warm compresses, liquids, and rest can help you feel better.
- If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about your antibiotics.
- Talk with your doctor if you develop any side effects, especially severe diarrhea, since that could be a Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile or C. diff) infection, which needs to be treated.
- Do your best to stay healthy and keep others healthy by cleaning hands, covering coughs, staying home when sick, and getting recommended vaccines, such as the flu vaccine.
“When prescribed antibiotics, you should have a conversation with your healthcare provider about whether they’re the best approach to address what’s making you sick,” Dr. Persse continued.
Through the Houston Antimicrobial Stewardship Executive Committee, the health department works with healthcare providers and pharmacists to enhance infection control and antibiotic stewardship with the goal of addressing patient safety.
The committee hosts an annual conference that brings together local and national experts to discuss antimicrobial stewardship and the increasing challenges associated with antimicrobial resistance.
In addition to patient education, the health department will highlight National Antibiotic Awareness Week by participating in educational events and lectures for healthcare professionals.