People in Sussex are being reminded you don’t always need antibiotics to stay well and healthy this winter.
In line with European Antibiotics Awareness Day on Friday 18th November, health professionals in Sussex are urging people to remember that antibiotics do not cure viral infections such as colds, flu and most coughs, and in some cases overusing them can even make you more unwell.
Dr Andrew Foulkes, Medical Director at NHS Sussex and a GP in Yapton, West Sussex, said: “Every winter most of us can expect to experience some form of cold or flu, but people need to remember that contrary to popular belief antibiotics won’t help fight off these types of viral infections. Instead the best remedy for these illnesses is usually rest, to drink plenty of fluids, and over the counter medicines such as paracetamol.”
Antibiotics are essential in the fight against infections but if people use them inappropriately or over-use them it can reduce their effectiveness over time, and also make it more likely that bacteria will become resistant to treatment, and therefore leave people more vulnerable to infections such as Clostridium difficile.
It is crucial that together local health services and patients reduce the numbers of antibiotics being taken.
Dr Foulkes continued: “I think part of the problem is that people just assume antibiotics will cure them, and they also think that by having a prescription they have a ‘real’ illness. But jut because you don’t have a prescription or antibiotics, it doesn’t mean you are not ill enough to rest at home or stay off work.
“If you do catch a cold or the flu this winter you should drink plenty of fluids and ask your pharmacist what is the most appropriate medication to help you recover.”
Julia Dutchman-Bailey, Chief Nurse and Director of Quality at NHS Sussex, added: “I know that many people view antibiotics as a cure-all but the truth is that for common conditions such as colds and flu, they are normally no use whatsoever.
“We need to reduce the amount of antibiotics taken to ensure that people are not taking medication unnecessarily, and to help in the fight against infections such as Clostridium difficile. We work closely with local GPs to help them to prescribe in the most effective way possible, but it is also important that patients understand when antibiotics can help them – and when they can’t.”
If you have an existing medical condition and are at particular risk from complications from viral infections, you should seek the advice of your GP. You should also make sure that you have the free seasonal flu vaccine which will help to prevent serious health complications from flu.
Your four local NHS primary care trusts (PCTs) have joined forces to become NHS Sussex. The Sussex PCT Cluster represents NHS West Sussex, NHS East Sussex Downs and Weald, NHS Hastings and Rother, and NHS Brighton and Hove.
NHS Sussex is committed to commissioning high quality healthcare services for the people of Sussex. We also support our emerging clinical commissioning groups as they prepare to take on commissioning responsibilities in the future, as well as maintaining relationships with partner organisations.