As part of ongoing efforts to prevent the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding Rhode Islanders of the importance of using antibiotics correctly. People should only use antibiotics when necessary, and antibiotics should be used exactly as prescribed.
Antibiotics save lives, but any time antibiotics are used they can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most pressing public health threats in the United States today. Resistance to antibiotics does not mean that the body becomes resistant to antibiotics; this means that bacteria develop the ability to overcome antibiotics designed to kill them. When bacteria become resistant, antibiotics cannot fight them off and the bacteria multiply. Some resistant bacteria can be difficult or impossible to treat and can spread to other people.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the United States each year, and more than 35,000 people die from them.
“When someone takes the time to go to the doctor, they want to come out with a prescription that will give them relief. But antibiotics aren’t always the answer,” Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott said. , MD, MPH. âIn fact, sometimes they can make things worse. By taking antibiotics when they are not appropriate, people expose themselves to serious side effects while compromising our ability to use antibiotics as a lifesaving tool for future generations. . “
Public health officials across the country are taking similar steps to educate the public this week, during Antibiotic Awareness Week. RIDOH will continue to educate patients and healthcare providers in partnership with the Rhode Island Antimicrobial Stewardship and Environmental Cleaning Working Group.
CDC and RIDOH encourage patients and their families to:
– Get the facts on antibiotics. Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as those that cause colds, flu, bronchitis, or runny nose, even if the mucus is thick, yellow, or green. When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help, and the side effects could still hurt you.
– Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist for alternatives to antibiotics.
– While your body is fighting a virus, pain relievers, antipyretics, saline sprays or nasal drops, warm compresses, fluids, and rest can help you feel better.
– If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about your antibiotics.
– Talk to your doctor if you develop any side effects, especially severe diarrhea, as this could be Clostridioides difficile infection (C. difficile or C. diff) which needs to be treated.
– Do your best to stay healthy and keep others healthy by washing your hands, covering up coughs, staying home when sick, and getting the flu shot.
– Do not share prescription drugs.
More information and videos can be found at health.ri.gov/antibiotics and cdc.gov/antibiotic-use.