Those days of going to the physician for a routine antibiotic are over, or should be soon. According to the CDC, antibiotic resistance is on the rise, and an astounding two million people annually are identified as having an antibiotic-resistant strain of disease. What’s more, a staggering 23,000 people die each year because of this. The cause? Over-prescribing of antibiotics, or prescribing them when inappropriate. The reality is, it has been estimated that as many as half of all prescribed antibiotics are not necessary and unhelpful.
As reported by Lauri Hicks, DO, medical epidemiologist at CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, and 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.”
Historically, individuals would request an antibiotic for an upper respiratory infection, and doctors would comply, even though antibiotics are ineffective in treating viral infections. The shift now is for physicians to advise over-the-counter treatments, and a delayed prescription – to be filled at a later date if symptoms persist.
For older adults, it’s especially crucial to guarantee antibiotics are prescribed only when truly warranted, in order to avoid antibiotic resistance. The CDC suggests taking the following steps:
- Protective measures. Receive vaccines for flu, pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, varicella/zoster meningococcal, and hepatitis, as recommended. Be diligent in personal hygiene, such as careful hand-washing consistently during the day, and always prior to consuming food and after using the restroom. And, avoid close contact with other people who are sick.
- Cut back on antibiotic use. It’s imperative that we all change our mindset relating to the usage of antibiotics, knowing that while they are without a doubt useful under particular situations, they should be eliminated for common viral infections. Talk to the doctor to consider the advantages and disadvantages when an antibiotic is recommended.
- Make sure any complications are reported. In the event you end up with antibiotic resistance, make sure to have the doctor report it. The CDC is gathering data to record information about antibiotic-resistant infections, causes of those infections, and risk factors, in an effort to help prevent or lower the number of incidents.
Development of new antibiotics and diagnostic tests is a continuing process in order to stay ahead of resistant bacteria. Dr. Michael Bell, deputy director for 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 slow this harmful trend! Email or call Morning Glory Home Care, the dementia care Greenville experts, for additional information on how we can help, such as through accompanying your senior loved one to healthcare appointments and to receive vaccinations, by ensuring the household environment is clean and sanitary, by providing nutritious meals to increase health and wellness, and more. Call us at 618-667-8400 to learn more about our home care services in your area and how to keep the seniors you love healthy and thriving!