Taking better care of yourself might just help antibiotic over-prescribing

Antibiotics are overused in Australia. But why is this an issue for Occupational Health?

Taking better care of yourself might just help antibiotic over-prescribing

18-24 November 2019 is #AntibioticAwareness week.

We're told that antibiotics are overused in Australia. But why is this an issue for Occupational Health?

Did you know?

  • Antibiotics are overused in human health in Australia
  • Antibiotics only work against bacteria
  • Antibiotics will not make you better if you have an infection caused by a virus, like most coughs, colds, ear infections and sore throats
  • Not all bacteria need antibiotics – a healthy human body can clear a mild bacterial infection without the help of antibiotics
  • Taking an antibiotic when it’s not needed will not make a significant difference to how you feel or how fast you recover

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change to protect themselves from an antibiotic. The more we use antibiotics, the more chance bacteria have to become resistant to them. Remember, you don’t become resistant to antibiotics…bacteria do. These bacteria then spread to other people.

Antibiotic resistance is a real problem both here and internationally.

What does this mean for workplace health?

Preventing infections and their spread helps stop antibiotic resistance by reducing the need for antibiotics.

So if a cold has you feeling unwell, don't share it with your workmates:

  1. Stay home when acutely unwell.
  2. Be sure to practice proper hand hygiene and keep up to date with vaccinations – this is especially important for those who work
    with vulnerable populations such as aged care workers, heath care workers and child care workers .
  3. Only take antibiotics that are prescribed to you, do not use or share left over antibiotics.

If I can't take my partner's leftover antibiotics, what can I do?

Certain symptoms warrant medical attention, especially when symptom relief with over the counter medications and rest at home are not cutting it. Even then, you may or may not be given a prescription!

The following are a few reasons to see your GP:

  • You have a persistent high fever (over 39.4 degrees Celsius) for more than three days
  • Your cold gets unusually bad – you develop a severe cough for more than 2 weeks, muscle aches and pains, shortness of breath, chest pain or extreme difficulty swallowing
  • You can’t keep any food or water down
  • You develop severe abdominal or pelvic pain.

Antibiotics for the common cold - just another medical myth!

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