Saturday, November 12, 2011

Get Smart about Antibiotics Week

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By Diane Forrest, RN

When my son was a baby he was constantly getting inner ear infections.  This is common with babies, because before the age of 2, the Eustachian tube has not fully developed and is a breeding ground for bacteria.  This is the reason so many babies have tubes in their ears.  Not wanting to have this procedure done, I opted to deal with the constant infections with antibiotics.   With each infection we would make another trip to the pediatrician.  On one visit he would order Ceclor, the next would be amoxicillin. The reason for alternating the drugs is so that my son wouldn't develop a resistance to one particular drug.  The use, or should I say overuse of antibiotics has cause the bacteria to mutate into "super bugs".  This means new strains of bacteria are forming that are resistant to current antibiotics, making it harder to treat.  For more information about antibiotics take the quiz below that was found on the website.

Antibiotics fight infections caused by:
  1. Viruses
  2. Bacteria
  3. Viruses and bacteria

The correct answer is 2. Antibiotics are made from certain types of mold or bacteria that kill or slow the growth of other bacteria. Examples include penicillin and streptomycin

True or false: Bacteria are germs that cause colds and flu.
  1. True
  2. False
The correct answer is 2. Bacteria do not cause colds or flu. Those illnesses are caused by viruses, which do not respond to antibiotics. Using antibiotics to treat a virus will not cure the infection or help keep others from catching the illness.

Which of these illnesses should be treated with antibiotics?
  1. Runny nose
  2. Flu
  3. Cold
  4. Strep throat

The correct answer is 4. Antibiotics cure bacterial infections such as strep throat. They do not cure viral infections or illnesses, including colds, flu, runny noses, and sore throats not caused by strep infection.

True or false: Infections can become resistant to antibiotics.
  1. True
  2. False

The correct answer is 1. When a person takes antibiotics, weaker bacteria are killed, but resistant germs may be left to grow and multiply. As antibiotics continue to be used, those resistant bacteria get stronger. Repeated and improper use of antibiotics is a primary cause of the increase in drug-resistant bacteria. And smart use of antibiotics is the key to controlling the spread of resistance -- while antibiotics should be used to treat bacterial infections; they are not effective against viral infections like the common cold, most sore throats, and the flu.

I can prevent antibiotic-resistant infections when I:
  1. Don't take an antibiotic for a viral infection.
  2. Don't take an antibiotic prescribed for someone else.
  3. Don't save an antibiotic for the next time I am sick.
  4. Take my antibiotic exactly as my health care provider tells me to.
  5. All of the above
  6. None of the above

The correct answer is 5. To help prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections, take antibiotics only when needed—for a bacterial infection, not for one caused by a virus—and only as directed by your health care provider. Don't use antibiotics prescribed for someone else or "save" antibiotic medication to use at a later time.

What can happen if I get an antibiotic-resistant infection? 
  1. I may have a longer-lasting illness.
  2. I may have to visit my doctor more.
  3. I may need more costly medicine that may cause side effects.
  4. All of the above
  5. None of the above

The correct answer is 4. If a bacterium becomes resistant to antibiotic drugs, treating the infections it causes can become much more difficult or even impossible. The illness may last longer or require stronger medications to combat the bacteria, which can cause more side effects. They may be more expensive or require repeated visits to the doctor

Alexander Fleming discovered the first antibiotic in 1927. What was the antibiotic named?
  1. Mold
  2. Penicillin
  3. Vancomycin
  4. Doxycycline

The correct answer is 2. Scottish biologist Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1927, although it was not used to treat humans until the 1940s. At that time, it transformed medical care and dramatically decreased the number of people who became ill or died because of bacterial infections.

True or false: Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world's most pressing public health problems.
  1. False

The correct answer is 1. Almost every type of bacteria has become stronger and less responsive to antibiotic treatment. Someone with an infection that is resistant to a certain medicine can pass that resistant infection to another family member, schoolmate, or coworker. In this way, a hard-to-treat illness can be spread from person to person. For this reason, antibiotic resistance is among the top public health concerns of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If a bacterium is resistant to many drugs, treating the infections it causes can become more difficult and more expensive.

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