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Islanders urged to try simple remedies before antibiotics for coughs and colds

The overuse and misuse of antibiotics has resulted in bacteria becoming resistant to some of the antibiotics used to treat them. Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Islanders who are feeling under the weather are being encouraged to try simple remedies before getting antibiotics.

The advice comes during the World Health Organisation's Antibiotic Awareness Week (18-24 November), which aims to increase understanding about antibiotic resistance.

Health professionals say things like coughs and colds can be resolved with over-the-counter medications instead.

The arrival of winter brings with it runny noses, sore throats and coughs. In most cases these illnesses are caused by viruses and will clear up within a few days without the need for antibiotics. We would urge people to consult their pharmacist for advice on over-the-counter medications which may help to alleviate their symptoms.

Antibiotics play a key part in modern medicine, helping to treat serious illnesses caused by bacteria. However, the overuse and misuse of antibiotics both in human and animal health has resulted in bacteria becoming resistant to some of the antibiotics used to treat them.

– Adam Leversuch, Antimicrobial Pharmacist

Health professionals are also advising people to wash their hands properly and get vaccinated against infections, such as the flu, to prevent them from getting ill in the first place.

In the past five years, the total number of prescriptions issued for an antibiotic has fallen by 10%. This means that on average, less than one antibiotic prescription is dispensed per person each year in Jersey. However, this figure is around 60% higher than in England.

We have introduced local electronic antibiotic guidelines and promoted a range of other resources to support health professionals in taking decisions with their patients about when to use antibiotics.

Taking antibiotics when you don't need them puts you and your loved ones at risk as it can lead to antibiotic resistance which means antibiotics won't work in the future against potentially life-threatening infections such as sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis.

Without effective antibiotics many routine treatments or operations like chemotherapy, surgery or Caesarean sections will also become increasingly dangerous or impossible.

– Paul McManus, Prescribing Advisor