Infectious diseases are caused by microorganisms which includes bacteria, viruses and fungi. The group of medicines used to treat infections caused by these microorganisms are called antimicrobials and it includes antibiotic, anti-viral and anti-fungal medicines.
- An antimicrobial drug that works against one type of microbes does not work against any of the other types.
- Antibiotics treats bacterial infections like pneumonia and meningitis, and they are ineffective against viral and fungal infections.
- Anti-viral treats viral infections like chickenpox, herpes, mumps, and they are ineffective against bacterial and fungal infections.
- Anti-fungal treats fungal infections like thrush, ringworms, and they are ineffective against bacterial and viral infections.
Overuse and misuse of antimicrobials help microbes to adapt and develop new ways of survival and this is called antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobial resistance makes it difficult to treat infections as the microbes can be resistant to multiple medicines. It has emerged as key public health challenge and it is estimated that 700,000 people die annually due to drug resistant infections.
Antibiotics can have side effects as they upset the natural balance of bacteria potentially resulting in diarrhoea and/or thrush. The use of inappropriate antibiotics may also allow other more harmful bacteria to increase. Antibiotics also cause other side effects such as rashes, stomach pains and reactions to sunlight.
Antibiotic resistant bacteria don’t just affect you; they can spread to other people (and animal) in your close contact and are difficult to treat.
There are very few new antibiotics in the development pipeline which makes it necessary for us to use existing antibiotics wisely to ensure that these life- saving medicines remain effective for us, our children and grandchildren.
What can we do?
Take antibiotics when prescribed and as directed by a certified health professional. Antibiotics should never be shared and not saved for future use.
Minor illnesses like cough, cold, sore throat and earache gets better without antibiotics. Seek advice from community pharmacists to help with self-care. For more information on managing your symptoms, please visit Treat Yourself Better.
Maintaining good hygiene practices reduces transmission of infection and illness. Washing your hand with soap and water can keep the germs away. More information is available at Antibiotic Guardian | Hand washing technique.
Become an antibiotic guardian and protect yourself, your family and friends against the spread of antibiotic resistance at Antibiotic Guardian | Pledge to be an Antibiotic Guardian.