It is Antibiotics Awareness Week! Antibiotics are integral to modern medicine, helping us all live better, longer, happier lives. For nearly a century, antibiotics have been lifesaving miracle drugs - but they're increasingly not working. Antibiotic-resistant infections are now the world's third leading cause of death. During Antibiotic Awareness Week, we at ARAC want to bring attention to this growing global issue and help each individual make their voice heard! It is up to us all to call for systemic changes to protect antibiotics. What contributes to antibiotic resistance? One major cause is factory farming. Pumping livestock full of antibiotics to keep them alive in overcrowded, stressful conditions. This is the practice of conventional agriculture. Improving living conditions for animals, so they don't need antibiotics, isn't just humane—it's the healthier option for us all.
While industrial farming is a huge factor in the growing problem of #antibiotic resistance through gross overuse, there are also things to keep in mind in relation to human use. We are strong advocates for systemic change in the farming system, and systemic change takes time and means working on all fronts. So consider the following action items to protect yourself and your family.
Antibiotics can save lives. When a patient needs antibiotics, the benefits outweigh the risks of side effects and antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotics do NOT treat viruses, like those that cause colds, flu, or COVID-19. Other medications, like antivirals, can treat viruses.
When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help you, and the side effects could still cause harm. Side effects range from minor to very severe health problems. When you need antibiotics for a bacterial infection, the benefits usually outweigh the risk of side effects.
Talk with your healthcare professional if you develop any side effects, especially severe diarrhea, since that could be a Clostridioides difficile (difficile or C. diff) infection, which needs to be treated immediately.
Do your best to stay healthy and keep others healthy by cleaning hands by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol; covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; staying home when sick; and getting recommended vaccines, such as the flu vaccine.
Antibiotics aren’t always the answer. Everyone can help improve antibiotic use. Improving the way we take antibiotics helps keep us healthy now, helps fight antimicrobial resistance, and ensures that these life-saving antibiotics will be available for future generations.