‘Look after for your health’ but avoid antibiotics

PRACTICE ‘self-care’, and ‘do not ask the doctor for antibiotics’ are two of the messages that the local NHS clinical commissioning group is highlighting as we enter the critical winter period.

Monday – November 15 – is the beginning of  National Self Care Week and three days later World Antibiotics Awareness Week gets underway.

NHS Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight CCG – Fareham & Gosport CCG has been subsumed together with five other CCGs into this sub-regional body – is responsible for, “planning and buying (commissioning) healthcare services from local hospitals, GPs and other providers, and supporting those providers to continually improve services for the benefit of our 1.66m population.”

Practice Self Care for Life

Its Chief Medical Officer for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care System, Derek Sandeman, said: “People practice self-care every day when they brush their teeth, choose to exercise or eat healthily.

“Self-care is about understanding how to self-treat common ailments, manage long-term conditions and avoid preventable illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

“Self-care is also about understanding when you can look after yourself, when a pharmacist can help, and when it’s better to get advice from your GP or another health professional. If you have a long-term condition, self-care is about understanding that condition and how to live with it.

And he emphasised that pharmacists, “are fully-trained medical professionals who can advise you on the right medicine to help with many ailments, such as sore throats, colds, asthma, eczema, hay fever, period pain and diarrhoea and vomiting”.

Horndean GP Dr Zaid Hirmiz added: “Where it’s not possible to self-care, the NHS is there for you but there are a number of ways that we can all be prepared for common illnesses and injuries by keeping our medicine cabinet stocked with a number of over-the-counter medicines that you can buy from your pharmacist.”

These include:

  • painkillers like paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin, which can help with colds and flu by reducing aches, pains and high temperatures
  • antihistamines, for dealing with allergies and insect bites
  • antacid, which will reduce stomach acidity and bring relief if you have stomach ache or heartburn
  • cough medicines
  • oral rehydration salts, which will restore your natural balance of fluid and minerals after diarrhoea or being sick.

And have a first aid kit – bandages, plasters, a thermometer, antiseptic, sterile dressings, medical tape and tweezers – to treat minor cuts, sprains and bruises, and reduce the risk of cuts becoming infected.

Let the doctor decide if antibiotics are needed

The World Antibiotics Awareness Week message is, as Dr Sandeman explained, because certain bacteria are becoming, “increasingly resistant to antibiotics, antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections become less effective.

“This can have serious health implications for the person with the infection as well as their family and others who may become infected as a result.”

The CCG has listed key things people can do to keep antibiotics working:

  • prevent infections and stop them spreading by:
    • checking you and your family have had all your immunisations
    • washing your hands regularly with soap and water (especially before eating, after going to the toilet, and after coughing/sneezing)
    • catching coughs/sneezes in a tissue (and binning it)
  • only taking antibiotics when you need them, when advised by your GP – find out more about when antibiotics are needed HERE
  • remembering that cold/flu viruses and stomach viruses, like norovirus, can’t be treated with antibiotics – they usually get better with rest, fluids and over-the-counter remedies. Click HERE for more information, including when and where to seek advice
  • always take your healthcare professional’s advice on antibiotics
  • always take the full course of any antibiotics you are prescribed and never share them with others.

For further information, including ways to help the fight against antibiotic resistance, click HERE

Image (top): antibiotic tablets