“If we continue to abuse antibiotics, their effectiveness will drop, because there will be an evolution of microorganisms immune to their effect," experts warn and remind that these medicines protect from bacteria, but are ineffective in the case of viral infections.

Experts believe that the applicable standard should be that “antibiotics should be used as often as necessary and as rarely as possible."

Due to the varied scope of their effects, these medicines should only be used under medical supervision, which will establish the scope of the antibiotic treatment, its dosage and time.

Antibiotics should definitely not be prescribed to patients for viral infections, e.g. viral throat infection, herpes or flu.

Possible results of antibiotic abuse

As revealed to e-zdrowie web portal by Professor Waleria Hryniewicz, supervisor of the National Antibiotics Protection Programme, unless we make antibiotic therapies more rational, it may turn out that the physicians will be left with no resources to treat the patients due to the bacterial immunity to medicines.

“The level of antibiotic abuse has reached a stage which is critical to our lives," warns Professor Hryniewicz. “The immunity level of the bacteria to antibiotics is rising, which makes them insensitive to these medicines and prevents physicians from effectively treating infections," she explains.

According to Prof. Hryniewicz, the rising immunity to antibiotics is currently one of the main problems in health care, which concerns not only individual patients, but public health as well.

“The global spread of bacteria immune to all kinds of available antibiotics may increasingly put the physicians in situations where they have no therapy to choose," stresses Professor Hryniewicz.

The reason for the rising immunity to antibiotics is their abuse; just the use of antibiotics causes the bacteria to slowly become immune, but antibiotic abuse significantly accelerates this process.

How to counter antibiotic abuse

According to professor, there are not enough diagnostic tools allowing to distinguish between a viral infection and a bacterial infection during a doctor’s appointment.

“Most antibiotics are prescribed by general health care physicians, therefore we should consider the possible actions in this group, e.g. increase funding for diagnostic tests," says Professor Hryniewicz.

She points out that antibiotics are currently used almost everywhere: in garden spraying, fish farming, human and animal treatment, and even as paint additives to extend product shelf life.

“Furthermore," she says, “we are travelling all over the world, which aids the spread of microbes. The poor level of hygiene in many countries, the insufficient procedures of infection control in the hospitals, the imperfect methods of identifying and responding to infections, and low vaccination coverage levels are other reasons.

“For example, we rarely vaccinate against flu, even though the flu virus is conducive to lung staph and pneumococcal infections," warns Professor Hryniewicz.

In her opinion, pneumococcal vaccinations should also be promoted, since the available shot eliminates the bacteria strains immune to multiple antibiotics.

Information on the National Antibiotic Protection Programme is available at www.antybiotyki.edu.pl

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