Pharmacists Annaliese Cooper and Andrew Orange work at Rarotonga Hospital. Photo: Zahra Shahtahmasebi/22111118
One in five people treat their own infections instead of seeing a doctor or nurse practitioner to get it checked and get an appropriate antibiotic prescribed if one is needed, says Te Marae Ora chief pharmacist.
to Andrew Orange, they do this by using leftover antibiotics that they’ve
either saved from a different infection, or that have been prescribed for
friends or family members.
was one interesting finding from the survey of 434 people done by Te Marae Ora
(TMO) Pharmacy Staff in October in preparation for World Antimicrobial
Awareness Week, which runs from November 18-24 every year.
said: “This isn’t a big surprise, but it isn’t a good habit to get into.”
lose their effectiveness over time, and the next infection that needs treating
might be caused by different bacteria, so your leftover antibiotics might not
work or could cause bacteria to become resistant.”
resistance is caused by using the wrong antibiotic, overusing antibiotics, not
using big enough doses of antibiotics, or using antibiotics at the wrong time
or for the wrong infection.
said: “When antibiotic resistance happens, antibiotics stop working on the
bacteria they usually work on, and an infection might get worse in spite of
treatment. Bacteria can change
themselves to become resistant to antibiotics, and they can spread that
resistance to other bacteria too. Then
those resistant bacteria can spread from person to person, making it very
difficult to treat a common infection like a bladder infection.”
also a danger that antibiotics prescribed for you won’t suit someone else. They might cause an allergic reaction, or
interact with other medicines that they’re taking.”
said people needed to use antibiotics wisely to keep them working.
doctor or nurse practitioner is the best person to decide what is causing your
infection, if antibiotics are needed at all, and if so, which one suits you
best. It’s always best to check with
them, rather than using leftover antibiotics or antibiotics prescribed for
someone else’s infection. Any leftovers should really be taken back to the
pharmacy to prevent them doing any harm.”