The days of visiting the doctor for a standard antibiotic are over, or will soon be. According to the CDC, an astounding 2 million people each year are told they have an antibiotic-resistant strain of disease, and a full 23,000 of them die as a consequence. What’s causing it? Over-prescribing of antibiotics, or prescribing them when unnecessary. In fact, it is been calculated that as much has 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, and 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 request an antibiotic for an upper respiratory illness, and health practitioners would comply, even though relieving viral infections is not an effective use of antibiotics. The shift now is for physicians to encourage over-the-counter medications, together with a delayed prescription – to be filled later on if symptoms continue.
For the elderly, it is especially imperative to make sure antibiotics are prescribed only if truly warranted, in order to reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance. The CDC recommends taking the following actions:
- Precautionary measures. Receive vaccines for flu, pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, varicella/zoster meningococcal, and hepatitis, as appropriate. Be persistent in personal cleanliness, such as careful hand-washing regularly during the day, and always prior to consuming food and immediately following using the toilet. And, refrain from close contact with other people who are sick.
- Minimize antibiotic use. It is important that we all change our mindset about the utilization of antibiotics, knowing that while they are without a doubt useful under particular situations, they should be avoided for typical viral infections. Consult with the physician to consider the advantages and disadvantages when an antibiotic is advised.
- Ensure any problems are documented. Should you experience antibiotic resistance, be sure to have your health care provider report it. The CDC is collecting data to record information on antibiotic-resistant infections, causes of those infections, and risk factors, in order to assist in preventing or lower the number of occurrences.
Development of new antibiotics and diagnostic tests is an ongoing process to try and stay in front of resistant bacteria. Dr. Michael Bell, deputy director of 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 can all do our part to help counter this dangerous trend! Make contact with Home With You Senior Care, the Columbia home health care experts, for further information on how we can help, for example, through accompanying seniors to medical appointments and to receive vaccinations, by ensuring the home is clean and sanitary, by providing nutritionally beneficial meals to maximize overall health, and more. Reach out to us at 410-756-0959 to how our top-rated care team can help keep the older adults you adore healthy and thriving!