Antibiotics are an essential part of treating certain illnesses but they should only be prescribed when they are needed.
If you are feeling unwell you should:
- See your GP
- Ask your GP what treatment options are available
- Ask your GP to check if your vaccinations are up to date.
Not always the best option
More than half of people with colds, the flu or other upper respiratory infections are prescribed antibiotics, despite them being powerless against viruses.
Over prescription of antibiotics can lead to resistance.
This means that antibiotics may no longer work.
Professor John Turnidge, an Australian expert in resistance, says:
“95% of respiratory infections are caused by virus, so antibiotics do nothing but
give you side effects.”
When you have certain illnesses, like bronchitis or influenza, the use of antibiotics is not recommended by Australian Therapeutic Guidelines.
So what should I do?
It’s still important to see your GP if you are feeling unwell. Your GP is the best person to advise the right treatment for you.
Annual flu vaccination is recommended for anyone aged over 6 months who
wishes to reduce their chances of becoming ill with the flu. (NSW Health)
Anyone can get the flu, but it can be more serious for certain people. Public health experts advise that the best time to be vaccinated against the flu is
between March and June each year.
You can organise to have a flu vaccination through your GP. Some workplaces also offer free vaccination.
The flu vaccination program is free for people aged 65 years or older and:
- people who have chronic health issues like respiratory conditions
- Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people
- pregnant women (2nd and 3rd trimester)
Did you know?
Some data in relation to the current use of antibiotics in Australia
- Antibiotics are prescribed for acute respiratory infections at rates up to 9 times as high as those recommended by the Australian Therapeutic Guidelines (Medical Journal of Australia).
- A recent report released by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care found the highest rates of antibiotics use in the community were among children up to nine years old and people over 65, with GPs accounting for the vast majority (88%) of all antibiotics prescriptions.(Sydney Morning Herald)