The occasions of visiting the doctor for a routine antibiotic are done, or will soon be. As reported by the CDC, an astounding 2 million people annually are clinically determined to have an antibiotic-resistant strain of disease, and a staggering 23,000 of them die as a consequence. The cause? Over-prescribing of antibiotics, or prescribing them when unnecessary. The reality is, it is been estimated that as many as half of all prescribed antibiotics are unnecessary and unhelpful.
As reported by Lauri Hicks, DO, medical epidemiologist at CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, as well as medical director for the Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work program, “The reasons for this high frequency of inappropriate prescribing are complex. The most common justifications are diagnostic uncertainty, severe illness, and concern for patient satisfaction during their visit.”
Over the years, people would request an antibiotic for an upper respiratory infection, and doctors would comply, despite the fact that antibiotics are not effective in relieving viral infections. The switch currently is for physicians to encourage over-the-counter treatments, and a delayed prescription – to be filled later on if symptoms continue.
For seniors, it is particularly crucial to ensure proper use of antibiotics in order to minimize antibiotic resistance. The CDC suggests taking the following actions:
- Protective measures. Get vaccines for influenza, pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, varicella/zoster meningococcal, and hepatitis, as appropriate. Be persistent in personal hygiene, such as careful hand-washing consistently throughout the day, and always before eating and immediately after utilizing the bathroom. And, refrain from close contact with others who are sick.
- Cut back on antibiotic use. It’s imperative that we all change our mindset regarding the usage of antibiotics, understanding that while they’re definitely useful under specific circumstances, they should be avoided for normal viral infections. Talk with your doctor to weigh the advantages and disadvantages when an antibiotic is recommended.
- Always make sure any issues are reported. If you do suffer from antibiotic-resistance, make sure to have your physician report it. The CDC is collecting data to record information on antibiotic-resistant infections, causes of those infections, and risk factors, to be able to help prevent or decrease the number of incidents.
Development of new antibiotics and diagnostic tests is a continuing process to try and stay in front of resistant bacteria. Dr. Michael Bell, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, shares, “We are approaching a cliff. If we don’t take steps to slow or stop drug resistance, we will fall back to a time when simple infections killed people.”
We can all do our part to help reverse this harmful trend! Connect with Compassionate Nursing Services, providers of top-rated assistance home care in St. Louis, for additional information on how we can help, such as through accompanying seniors to medical appointments and to receive vaccinations, by making sure that the house environment is clean and sanitary, by preparing nutritionally beneficial meals to maximize overall health, and more. Call us at 314-432-4312 to learn how our compassionate care team is here to help keep the older adults you love healthy and thriving!