Woman with cystic fibrosis who has relied on antibiotics since birth calls to combat their overuse

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A woman who has relied on antibiotics since birth has joined calls for people to act to help combat the overuse of these vital medicines.

Cerys Upstone, 19, is a second-year journalism and politics student at Cardiff University and was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) at four weeks old.

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited condition that causes sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive system. This causes lung infections and problems digesting food.

Cerys Upstone says the antibiotics she relies on stop working for her "it is sort of game over for me, I don't know what I'd do." Credit: ITV

Like most CF patients, Cerys has needed to take antibiotics, sometimes routinely, for her entire life to control these infections and stop them causing further damage.

However, bacteria are gradually becoming resistant to these antibiotics meaning they are less effective which could have very serious implications for people like Cerys.

“I need to take antibiotics quite a lot and antimicrobial resistance concerns me,” Cerys said.

“I used to be on long-term antibiotics as I kept getting infections. I took these for quite a few years. I am very reliant on antibiotics, I have been my whole life, and it’s always something I query with doctors.”

As a child, Cerys said she would develop a serious infection roughly every other year, which would require hospitalisation and administration of intravenous antibiotics.

"Obviously as someone who is at risk and goes get a lot of infections, I massively rely on antibiotics to keep me healthy a lot of the time." She said.

A nurse preparing an antibiotic for a drip Credit: PA

"And if those antibiotics stop working for me it is sort of game over for me, I don't know what I'd do."

In 2021, she began receiving a triple-combination therapy which slowed down the decrease in her lung function.

While she still suffers from frequent chest infections, Cerys has not had to have a course of IV antibiotics since beginning this therapy.

Public Health Wales is calling on medical practitioners and the general public to only use antibiotics when necessary to manage this "silent pandemic".

Dr Eleri Davies, Deputy Medical Director for Public Health Wales said: "We're trying to draw attention to antibiotic resistance. It is a big issue for us. The World Health Organisation has designated antimicrobial resistance as one of the top ten global threats to humanity.

She added: "Antibiotics have transformed the way we manage our health and if you think about it any treatments such as hip replacements, kidney dialysis or treatments for cancer are dependent on having antibiotics that are effective against some of the infections that can happen.

"So antibiotics revolutionised the way we treated people when they became available in the 1940s but now as we are seeing more and more anti-microbial resistance there is a threat that antibiotics will no longer be available to us in the future.

"We need to use them appropriately, we do need to use them to treat infections and we mustn't overuse them and we must be careful how we use them as they are a very precious resource."

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