The days of visiting the physician for a routine antibiotic are past, or soon will be. As reported by the CDC, an astounding 2 million people every single year are informed they have an antibiotic-resistant strain of disease, and a staggering 23,000 of them die because of this. The cause? Over-prescribing of antibiotics, or prescribing them when inappropriate. As a matter of fact, it’s been calculated that as many as 50% 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, individuals would ask for an antibiotic for an upper respiratory illness, and physicians would agree, even though antibiotics are not effective in treating viral infections. The switch now is for doctors to encourage over-the-counter medications, along with a delayed prescription – to be filled at a later date if signs and symptoms persist.
For older adults, it is especially vital to make certain that antibiotics are prescribed only when truly warranted, in order to avoid antibiotic resistance. The CDC recommends the following strategies:
- Protective measures. Receive vaccines for flu, pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, varicella/zoster meningococcal, and hepatitis, as recommended. Be thorough in personal hygiene, such as careful hand-washing consistently during the day, and always prior to eating and immediately following using the bathroom. And, refrain from close contact with others who are sick.
- Reduced antibiotic use. It is crucial that we all adjust our mindset regarding the use of antibiotics, knowing that while they’re definitely useful under specific instances, they should be avoided for routine viral infections. Consult with a doctor to consider the advantages and drawbacks when an antibiotic is advised.
- Always make sure any problems are documented. Should you end up with antibiotic resistance, make sure to have the doctor report it. The CDC is amassing data to record information about antibiotic-resistant infections, factors behind those infections, and risk factors, with the intention to help prevent or reduce the amount of occurrences.
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 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 should all do our part to help counter this harmful trend! Contact Grace Home Care, the respite care Topeka experts, for further information about how we can help, such as through accompanying your senior loved one to healthcare appointments and to receive vaccinations, by making sure that the household environment is neat and sanitary, by providing nutritionally beneficial meals to optimize overall health, and much more. Contact us at 785-286-2273 to learn more about our compassionate caregivers who can help keep your senior loved one healthy and thriving.