Public Health England warns of the risks of taking antibiotics when you don’t need to

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Public Health England (PHE) has launched a national campaign, highlighting that taking antibiotics when you don’t need them puts you and your family at risk of more severe or longer illness. To help keep antibiotics working you are urged to always take your doctor or nurse’s advice on antibiotics.

At least 5,000 deaths are caused every year in England because antibiotics no longer work for some infections and this figure is set to rise with experts predicting that in just over 30 years antibiotic resistance will kill more people than cancer and diabetes combined.

Antibiotics help ward off infections during chemotherapy, caesarean sections and other surgery. They also treat serious bacterial infections, such as pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis, but they are being used for everyday viral infections, such as colds or flu, where they are not effective. Taking antibiotics encourages harmful bacteria that live inside you to become resistant. That means that antibiotics may not work when you really need them.

Furthermore, if you take antibiotics, you are more likely to get an antibiotic resistant infection. This risk is even greater for children who have taken antibiotics.

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Public Health England is calling for the public to play their part in tackling the antibiotic resistance epidemic by trusting their doctor or nurse’s advice as to when they need antibiotics and if they are prescribed, taking antibiotics as directed and never saving them for later use or sharing with others.

The campaign, which is part of a wider cross-Government strategy to help preserve antibiotics, will run from Monday 23rd October across England for 8 weeks and will be supported with advertising, partnerships with local pharmacies and GP surgeries, PR and social media activity.

Find out more information about antiobiotic resistance, visit the antibiotic resistance section of our website. For further information on antibiotics, visit the NHS Choices website 

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