People across the North West are being encouraged to help keep antibiotics working

NHS North West is encouraging people to use antibiotics responsibly as we support World Antimicrobial Awareness Week and European Antibiotic Awareness Day (18 November).

Antibiotics, part of the antimicrobial family of medicines that fight infection and disease, will not treat viral infections such as flu and the common cold.

The wrong use or overuse of antibiotics can cause antimicrobial resistance, meaning people may not respond to the life-saving medicine when they need it.

NHS England and NHS Improvement Regional Antimicrobial Stewardship Lead for the North West is advising people to ‘think twice’ about taking antibiotics.

Gill Damant said, “Antibiotics are a precious medicine used to treat many life-threatening infections and diseases but they are not always the answer.

“Antibiotics need to be used correctly to prevent antimicrobial resistance, one of the biggest issues facing healthcare today.

“If you are unsure about the use of antibiotics, speak to your GP, nurse or local pharmacist and help keep antibiotics working.”

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week runs between 18 and 24 November and this year’s theme is to spread awareness and stop resistance.

Dr Yvonne Dailey, lead consultant in dental public health at NHS England and NHS Improvement (North West), said, “It’s also important to remember that there are solutions other than antibiotics for dental problems like toothache or dental abscesses. Antibiotics are not always the best way of treating tooth decay, gum disease or jaw problems, and are not usually needed.

“Always talk to your dentist if you have worries about pain, swelling, lumps or ulcers in your mouth, including if you are worried about oral cancer. They need to examine you and find out the cause of your problems before they can advise on the best options to treat you.”

People who need urgent medical help should visit NHS 111 online: www.111.nhs.uk or call 111.

Image: Gill Damant, NHS England and NHS Improvement Regional Antimicrobial Stewardship Lead for the North West

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