“Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs.
However, up to 50 percent of all antibiotics prescribed are not
needed or are not as effective as intended,” said IDPH Director
Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. “Because of misuse, antibiotic resistant
bacterial infections are more common, resulting in many of our life
saving medications losing efficacy. I encourage everyone to take
some time this week to learn how you can keep antibiotics working.”
Antibiotics are medicines that treat bacterial infections. They do
not cure infections caused by viruses, such as the common cold or
flu. Taking antibiotics when you do not need them can prevent them
from working when you do need them.
Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria change and become
resistant to the antibiotics used to treat the infections they
cause. Antibiotic resistant infections can take longer to treat, may
require more frequent doctor visits, possible hospital stays, more
severe side effects, and expensive treatments.
Each year in the United States, at least two million people become
infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at
least 23,000 people die as a direct result of these infections. Many
more people die from other conditions that were complicated by an
antibiotic resistant infection.
The following are ways you can help prevent antibiotic resistance.
- Ask your health care provider if there are other steps you
can take to feel better without using an antibiotic. Sometimes
the best treatment may be relieving your symptoms.
- Do not ask for antibiotics when your health care provider
thinks you do not need them. Antibiotics have side effects and
may do more harm than good.
- Take the antibiotic exactly as your health care provider
prescribes. Antibiotics can cause harm if taken improperly.
- Only take antibiotics prescribed for you; do not share or
use leftover antibiotics.
- Never save antibiotics for the next time you become sick.
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- Do not stop taking the course of antibiotics as soon as you
start to feel better. Taking the full course at the full dose,
even if you start to feel better earlier, should kill all of the
bacteria and not leave any to mutate and become resistant.
- Ask your health care provider about recommended vaccines.
Vaccines can prevent infections that may require an antibiotic
and help keep diseases from spreading.
Preserving the power of antibiotics, through careful use, is
critical to improving patient care and ensuring that common
infections continue to be successfully treated. IDPH has
released the Illinois Action Plan to Prevent Health Care
Association Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance, which
outlines four strategic priorities: infection prevention,
treatment and assessment of infections, expanding antibiotic
programs to all health care settings, and targeting prevention
efforts for superbugs.
IDPH urges health care facilities to make a commitment to using
antibiotics appropriately, monitoring antibiotic prescribing and
implementing practices to improve it, and educating clinicians
and patients. Learn more through the IDPH Precious Drugs & Scary
Test your knowledge about antibiotic resistance at
[Illinois Department of Public