Antibiotics are medicines used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Bacteria can adapt and ﬁnd ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic. They become 'resistant', meaning that the antibiotic no longer works. The more you use antibiotics, the higher the risk that the bacteria normally living on your skin and in your gut, as well as any bacteria causing infection, will become resistant to those antibiotics. You can also share these resistant bacteria with the people around you.
Antibiotic resistance is a major threat to healthcare as we know it. Already, at least 700,000 people die each year worldwide due to infections caused by resistant bacteria. This video explains what a world without antibiotics would be like:
We therefore all have a responsibility to only use antibiotics when we need them in order to make sure they keep working in the future.
What can I do?
Prevention is better than cure, so taking steps to reduce the risk of infection where you can is important. This involves simple actions such as drinking enough water to keep your urine straw coloured to prevent urine (water) infections and accepting vaccination when offered.
We can all carry bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics without knowing it, and share these with the people around us. It’s therefore important to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly to minimise the risk of sharing these resistant bacteria with the people around you, as well as preventing infecting yourself from other sources of infection too.
Antibiotics don’t work against viruses, which cause many common infections. All colds, and most coughs and sore throats are caused by viruses. There are simple steps you can take to manage these infections, which can be found in the leaflets in the section below.
If you are given antibiotics you need to take them exactly as prescribed as inappropriate use helps the bacteria develop resistance. Inappropriate use includes:
Find out more about what you can do to help by becoming an Antibiotic Guardian
Some conditions are self-limiting, that means they will get better without treatment, but you can do things to help with the symptoms to make yourself feel better. These leaflets give advice on self-care and when you may need to seek further advice:
It can be a worrying time when your child is unwell and difficult to know when to seek further advice, this leaflet gives further information and when to seek advice:
The NHS 111 Wales website has lots of useful information about conditions including infections on their encyclopaedia pages which you can access and search here: