The common cold is –well— pretty common. It is caused by a virus, lasts a few days and on occasions, can lead to an ongoing runny nose or cough. There was a time when antibiotics ruled supreme and they were given out like candy to every patient with a runny nose. How times have changed; antibiotics are now at the forefront of global healthcare campaigns to try and stop over-prescription.
Cayla Dengate from HuffPost Australia discussed the concerns in her original report on the 15th of November, 2015:
Don’t pressure your doctor into giving you unnecessary antibiotics – that’s the recommendation from research showing some Australians still wrongly believe antibiotics can treat cold and flu.
Frank Jones, president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners alarmingly states that doctors are regularly pressured by patients to be prescribed antibiotics. Even though there is plenty of information out there to dissuade people from using antibiotics for viral infections such as the cold and flu, there were still large groups of the population who were ignorant of the truth. Ten percent of people surveyed by the National Prescribing Service thought antibiotics could speed up their recovery.
The long term impacts of such behaviours and beliefs are alarming:
The study of 2,581 Australians over the age of 16 found 75 percent of people were aware that taking antibiotics for colds and flu would contribute to antibiotics becoming less effective in the future, 67 percent knew it put them at personal risk of developing antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The reality is, we are facing a future in which antibiotics may not work anymore:
It has become entrenched in our society’s thinking that antibiotics are an infinite resource, but unless we dramatically reduce antibiotic prescribing when they’re not needed, we are looking to a future where they may no longer work when they are really needed.
A Cochrane review has found that when doctors and patients have open conversations about the use of antibiotics, antibiotics were prescribed less. Though fighting the war on superbugs can be scary, there is hope.