November 11-17, 2020
As you probably already know, antibiotics help stop infections caused by bacteria. They do this by killing the bacteria or by keeping them from copying themselves or reproducing. The word antibiotic means “against life.” Any drug that kills germs in your body is technically an antibiotic. (WebMD)
But, did you know that November 11-17 is World Antibiotic Awareness Week? It was established in 2015 by the World Health Organization (WHO) to “increase awareness of global antibiotic resistance and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policymakers to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.”
What is antibiotic resistance and why should you care about it?
According to WHO, “antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to the use of these medications. Bacteria, not humans or animals, become antibiotic-resistant.”There’s a sense of urgency around the globe about this phenomenon because diseases from infections that cannot be treated with antibiotics like they usually are can be fatal.
WHO says “new resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases. A growing list of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning, gonorrhea, and foodborne diseases – are becoming harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat as antibiotics become less effective.” This is an i
ncreasing problem all over the world as poverty-driven conditions cause illnesses and infections that are resistant to antibiotics and spread unchecked.
How can we prevent antibiotic resistance?
- The best way to prevent antibiotic resistance is to prevent infections in the first place. Talk to your kids about basic hygiene measures that will keep infections away. Washing your hands, keeping a home environment clean, and taking precautions when preparing food is a great start. Also, take proper care of cuts and scrapes to keep them clean, bandaged, and away from environmental factors that could lead to infection.
- Don’t take antibiotics unless you really need them and make sure you take all antibiotics as prescribed. Do not keep antibiotics until your next illness but rather dispose of any unused ones.
- Eat more foods with antibiotic qualities. Always check with your doctor before making dietary changes but here are is a list of foods to include in your daily diet that can help you fight infections.
- Fruits and vegetables are high in Vitamin C which will strengthen your immune system
- Garlic, onions, shallots, and chives which are part of the allium family are rich in allicin, a compound with antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
- Honey has been used as an antibacterial for thousands of years, especially when combined with cinnamon.
- Be happy! Your mood can affect your overall health. People who are happy have fewer chances of bacterial infections and when they do get sick, they bounce back quicker. So focus on doing what makes you happy thus keeping yourself healthier.
Catholic Health Services participates in the AHRQ Safety Program for Improving Antibiotic Use. Our patients’ health is important to us and we aim to provide the best possible treatment for their condition. If an antibiotic would do more harm than good, our physicians will explain this and offer treatments that are better. Antibiotics are powerful medicines with the potential to heal, but also the potential to harm. This is how we help prevent antibiotic resistance.