By Dr Catherine Swanson

 

Medications that could kill bacteria and cure life threatening disease were only a dream prior to the 1940’s. In the last 70 years antibiotics have become a fundamental part of modern medicine and have saved countless lives, but we face big challenges ahead if we allow the power of antibiotics to be eroded.

Australia is one of the highest users of antibiotics in the world, and in reality this means over users. Antibiotics of different types work on various parts of the bacterial cell to kill the organism. Viruses, which cause the vast majority of disease in our communities, are much smaller than cells and have none of the structures that antibiotics work on. Hence if you have a viral illness such as a cold, and take antibiotics, there is NO chance they will work to get rid of the illness.

You might say ‘well at least it can’t hurt’ but this is definitely not the case. Unnecessary antibiotics cause resistance both in the individual user and across the community, as bacteria develop ways to evade getting killed by the antibiotic medication. If we use them when we don’t need them, antibiotics may not be effective when they are needed to treat severe illness.

I hope you enjoy reading this article about antibiotic resistance from the ABC Health News http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-28/antibiotic-resistance-explained-why-your-decisions-matter/7339062

We encourage you to discuss this issue with your GP and work with us to use antibiotics wisely and effectively for years to come.