RIDOH reminds about the proper use of antibiotics

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Tuesday, November 22, 2022

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The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reminding Rhode Island residents of the importance of using antibiotics properly as part of the ongoing effort to prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

People should only use antibiotics when necessary, and antibiotics should be used exactly as prescribed, RIDOH says.

RIDOH released the following on Tuesday;

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Antibiotics save lives, but every time antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most pressing public health threats in the United States today. Antibiotic resistance does not mean that the body becomes resistant to antibiotics; it means bacteria develop the ability to defeat the antibiotics designed to kill them. When bacteria become resistant, antibiotics cannot fight them and the bacteria multiply. Some resistant bacteria can be difficult or impossible to treat and can spread to other people.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the United States each year, and more than 35,000 people die as a result.

“When someone takes the time to go to the doctor, they want to walk away with a prescription that makes them feel better. But antibiotics aren’t always the answer,” said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. “In fact, they can sometimes make things even worse. Taking antibiotics inappropriately puts people at risk of serious side effects while undermining our ability to use antibiotics as a life-saving tool for future generations.”

Public health officials across the country and around the world are taking similar action to educate the public this week during Antibiotic Awareness Week, November 18-24.

CDC and RIDOH encourage patients and families to:

Get the facts about antibiotics. Antibiotics don’t work on viruses, like those that cause COVID-19, RSV, colds, flu, bronchitis, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow, or green.

Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about alternatives to antibiotics.

While your body fights a virus, pain relievers, fever reducers, saline nasal sprays or drops, warm compresses, fluids, and rest can help you feel better.

If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as directed. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about your antibiotics.

Do your best to stay healthy and keep others healthy by washing your hands, covering your cough, staying home when you are sick, and getting recommended vaccines like the flu vaccine.

Do not share prescription drugs.

In addition to these action steps, talk to your doctor if you develop any side effects from an antibiotic. Common side effects of antibiotics can include a rash, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, or yeast infections.

It’s especially important to talk to a doctor if you develop severe diarrhea after taking an antibiotic. Severe diarrhea could be an indication of a Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile or C. diff) infection that needs treatment. November is also C. Diff Awareness Month.

In addition to impacting patient health, C. diff rates have a financial impact on hospitals under Medicare’s Healthcare Acquired Disease (HAC) Reduction and Value-Based Procurement programs. To reduce these healthcare-acquired infections, RIDOH’s Antimicrobial Stewardship and Environmental Cleaning Task Force developed the CDI Playbook for healthcare providers and facilities in Rhode Island.

Visit health.ri.gov/antibiotics and cdc.gov/antibiotic-use for more information and videos.

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