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Resist the urge to rely on antibiotics; In association with the NHS Health experts on Tyneside are encouraging us to get well soon without relying on antibiotics. JANE PICKEN finds out why they won't do the trick for minor ailments.


NURSES, doctors and health professionals across the region are backing a national campaign to remind people antibiotics will not work wonders for the common cold.

Recently, Your Health reported on the launch of the campaign, by the Department of Health, and now measures are underway to put it into practice here.

Almost a decade after the original national public education campaign to discourage over-use of antibiotics, the government has warned that resistance is still on the increase and action is necessary to preserve the efficacy of the drugs we have.

Medical director of Newcastle Primary Care Trust (PCT), North Tyneside PCT and Northumberland Care Trust, Dr Mike Guy, said: "Resistance is becoming more common and recently fewer new antibiotics have been discovered.

"Antibiotics treat bacterial infections but all colds and most sore throats are caused by viruses so cannot be cured with antibiotics.

"The more we take antibiotics when they are not necessary, the more bacteria will become resistant to them. We must all play a part in conserving antibiotics as a valuable clinical resource.

"Patients can take other remedies to help relieve the symptoms of a cough or cold and local pharmacists will be able to give further advice."

Doctors in the region claim patients are approaching them and asking for antibiotics "just in case" they get flu or a nasty cold. But bacteria adapt and find ways to survive the effects of the drugs.

This can lead to antibiotics becoming less effective in fighting infections and has given rise to the increase in infections such as MRSA.

Now health experts in the region are also trying to tell patients how to correctly use antibiotics. Here are a few of their tips which could help: antibiotics should be taken as prescribed and the course should be finished unless a doctor or pharmacists advises otherwise patients should see a doctor if a cough lasts more than three weeks, if shortness of breath or chest pains develop or if they are worried about any other symptoms.

Cartoon character Dr Penny Cillin is taking these messages to GP surgeries and local pharmacies across Northumberland and Tyne & Wear.

The figure is appearing on leaflets and poster in GP surgeries and pharmacies, carrying the message that antibiotics are only effective for certain conditions.

Dr Guy added: "It's important we keep raising awareness of the best use of antibiotics so that the public are sure about when antibiotics are most effective."

Washington GP Dr Geoff Stephenson, who is also medical director of NHS South of Tyne and Wear, said: "Unnecessary use of antibiotics can do more harm than good because bacteria can build up a resistance, meaning some illnesses become more difficult to treat."


SPEAKING OUT - Medical director Dr Geoff Stephenson; ADVICE - Cartoon character Dr Penny Cillin features in the Let's Talk Antibiotics campaign; CUT BACK - Dr Mike Guy says resistance is more common
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 25, 2008
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