IF you're feeling under the weather then it's likely you'll end up seeing your GP for a solution.
But if you're hoping to be prescribed antibiotics, you might be out of luck.
Dr Bryony Henderson has now revealed why medics won't always prescribe you the medication.
She explained that the rise in antimicrobial resistance has meant common infections like pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning, gonorrhoea and food-borne diseases are becoming harder – and in some cases impossible – to treat.
The expert, who is lead GP at digital healthcare provider Livi, said people have become resistant to antibiotics, as for a long time, they have been taken when they aren't needed.
She explained that as a result, the bacteria they’re supposed to treat can change, adapt and develop resistance.
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"This means that the bacteria are no longer killed by the medicine and over time would mean that antibiotics are no longer effective.
"This is known as antibiotic resistance and it’s now a problem worldwide.
"This is why doctors are increasingly reluctant to prescribe antibiotics unless absolutely necessary."
The GP added that ideally, antibiotics should only be used as a last resort.
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They would be prescribed, she said, when an infection is unlikely to clear up without antibiotics, for example, a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) that keeps recurring, or where it could carry a risk of more serious complications.
When taken in the appropriate way, she said the medication can "really save lives".
"Having said that, taking antibiotics when you don’t need them can mean they won’t work for you in the future, when you might really need them to treat a more serious condition.
"That’s why it’s important to discuss your symptoms with your doctor who can recommend the best treatment option," she added.
As we head into cold and flu season, you'll probably reaching for some sort of remedy.
But Dr Henderson said it's important to note that antibiotics won't help if you have the sniffles.
"In fact, using them for viruses can put you at risk of getting a bacterial infection that’s resistant to antibiotics.
"This is why your doctor will no longer routinely prescribe antibiotics for conditions like chest infections, ear infections (for children) and sore throats.
"The good news is that your immune system will clear the virus over time.
The 6 tips you need to know when it comes to taking antibiotics
Dr Henderson reveals her six best tips for taking the medication safely.
- If you forget a dose, take it as soon as you remember and then continue to take your course of antibiotics as normal
- Never take more than the recommended dose, as this will increase your chances of side effects like pain, diarrhoea, feeling sick and bloating
- Some antibiotics don’t mix well with other medicines like the contraceptive pill or with alcohol. So, always check on the label or talk about any concerns to a GP
- Always finish your course as prescribed, even if you start to feel better, as this will allow enough of the antibiotics to clear any infection
- Don't take antibiotics that were prescribed for someone else
- If you’re taking antibiotics, you can help protect your gut by eating more probiotic foods
"By using simple measures, like keeping hydrated, you can make your body best prepared to mount the defence," the medic added.
If you are prescribed antibiotics it's important that you know how to take them.
Dr Henderson said you should never use them if they are past their expiry date – as they may no longer be effective.
"Antibiotics are available in many different forms such as tablets, capsules, or liquid.
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"Creams, lotions, sprays or drops are used to treat skin, eye or ear infections, and injections or drops are prescribed for more serious infections.
"Always take antibiotics as instructed on the packet, or by your doctor," Dr Henderson added.
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