Be wiser with self care say doctors

Antibiotics are neither effective nor necessary for common winter illnesses and should only be used when needed, local doctors have warned.

Despite common misconception, antibiotics do not work on viral illnesses, such as sore throats and colds. Research suggests that nearly half the UK adult population wrongly think antibiotics can treat colds and flu.

For the majority of people the best way to treat most colds, coughs or sore throats is to drink plenty of fluids and to rest. Colds can last about two weeks and may end with a cough and bringing up phlegm. There are many over the counter remedies to ease the symptoms – such as paracetamol for example.

The message comes as national Self Care Week is launched. The annual event, which this year runs from 17-23 November, will focus on ‘Self Care for Life – be healthy this winter’. It aims to raise awareness of how many common winter ailments do not require antibiotics, and that visiting a pharmacy for advice and treatment is often the best option.

In keeping with the theme of this year’s Self Care Week, European Antibiotics Awareness Day falls on Tuesday 18 November – aiming to raise awareness about the threat of antibiotics resistance due to unnecessary use.

By using antibiotics less often we can slow down the development of resistance. It’s not possible to stop it completely, but we can prevent resistance from spreading and buy some time to potentially develop new types of antibiotics. It is really important that when antibiotics are prescribed, the course is completed to get rid of the bacteria completely. If the course isn’t completed, some bacteria may be left to develop resistance.

Blackpool GP and Chief Clinical Officer of NHS Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Dr Amanda Doyle, said: “Common ailments such as coughs, colds and sore throats are caused by viruses so cannot be cured by antibiotics. Your body’s own immune system will actually cure the majority of these. The best action to take if you or a family member does feel ill with a viral infection like a cold or a cough is to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids.

“Antibiotics are effective drugs, as long as they are used to treat the right illnesses. Inappropriate use of them can have serious implications. It encourages antibiotic resistance and the development of ‘superbugs’ which can seriously harm our health.”

Pharmacists can provide confidential, expert advice and treatment for a range of common illnesses and complaints, without having to wait for a GP appointment or go to A&E. First aid treatments for minor accidents such as plasters and antiseptic creams can also be obtained from the pharmacy.

You don’t need to make an appointment to see a community pharmacist and you don’t need to be registered either. Meaning you can visit when it’s most convenient for you.

If a cold lasts more than three weeks, or you become breathless, have chest pains, or already suffer with a chest complaint, you should see your doctor.

To find your nearest local pharmacy, visit the ‘services near you’ section of www.nhs.uk.

The CCG will also be tweeting regular self-care advice throughout the coming month’s @BlackpoolCCG.

ENDS

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