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Antibiotic Awareness Week

Antibiotic Awareness Week

U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week is held every year during the week of November 12th – 18th to raise awareness about antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic usage. This week also highlights the steps everyone can take to improve antibiotic prescribing and use. 


What are Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are a medicine used to kill or stop bacteria growth. They are used to treat bacterial infections such as strep throat or whooping cough. Antibiotics may cause side effects, such as dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, and yeast infections, but if taken when needed, the benefits usually outweigh them. Many people assume you should take antibiotics whenever you’re sick, but that is actually false – since antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, if you have a cold or the flu, they won’t work for you. 


What is Antibiotic Resistance?

Antibiotics are important for saving lives and fighting infections. But too often, antibiotics are over prescribed or misused. When they’re not needed, the patient receives no benefits and can be exposed to preventable and potentially serious health problems. When antibiotics are used, our bodies can become resistant, which makes the antibiotics less effective when they are actually needed. Resistance is when antibiotic-resistant bacteria has formed and multiplies, making the antibiotic no longer effective.

Bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics in many ways. Some can “neutralize” an antibiotic by changing it in a way that makes in harmless. Some bacteria can even change their outer structure so the antibiotic has no way to attach to the bacteria it is designed to kill. 


What can you do as a patient?

It’s important that you do your best to stay healthy! Make sure you’re washing your hands often, covering your coughs, stay home if you are sick, and get the recommended vaccines. There are several ways to ensure you do not become antibiotic resistant, such as: talking with your healthcare provider about your concerns or questions; taking the prescribed antibiotic exactly as your provider tells you; never skipping a dose; never saving antibiotics for the next time you’re sick; and not taking antibiotics that were prescribed to others. Don’t insist on having antibiotics if your provider doesn’t think you need them. If you have any questions about your medications, talk with your primary care practitioner or call our Community Care Pharmacists at (518) 782-3771.


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