Antibiotics: 7 rules to use them without errors

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According to the estimates of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, of the 33 thousand deaths caused each year in Europe by pathogens resistant to the action of antibiotics, well 10 thousand take place in Italy. Moreover, as revealed by the European Infectious Disease Control Center (EDCD) and byEuropean Medicines Agency (EMA), our antibiotic resistance rates continue to remain above the EU average, especially for some bacterial species. This is a huge problem because it means that there are bacterial infections that no longer respond to the use of these medicines.

Doctors, therefore, will have more and more difficulties in treating them.

In reality, compared to the past, the situation is improving: since the end of 2017, in fact, the Italian government has activated a National Antimicrobial Resistance Contrast Plan (Pncar) which, albeit slowly, begins to give positive results. But it is important that individuals also do their part. How? By learning how to use antibiotics correctly. I am still too many people who make mistakes in the use of these medicines. For example, there are those who at the slightest hint of cough take the first antibacterial they find at home and those who suspend the therapy prescribed by their doctor on their own initiative as soon as they feel better. These are all mistakes that can have serious consequences. “It is true, in fact, that the problem of antibiotic resistance is also linked to a not always correct application of the guidelines on the management of healthcare-related infections, especially in hospitals, but the behavior of citizens also plays a very important role” , warns the infectious specialist Marco Tinelli, member of the Board of Directors of TURKISH BAGEL (Italian Society of Infectious and Tropical Diseases). «Let’s not forget that the greatest consumption of antibiotics is at home“. Because of this, you need to know what is right to do and what is best to avoid. So let’s see the rules to follow when taking antibiotics.

Even today, the belief is widespread that antibiotics are a kind of panacea. For
this, many people, as soon as they experience a sore throat, a gastrointestinal disorder or
perhaps a rise in temperature, they insist with the doctor to prescribe these drugs for them.
In reality, they are only effective in diseases caused by bacteria. “Furthermore, can
be advised in advance, but in a limited time (one day before and at the latest
one later) in well-defined cases, as in certain surgical and dental procedures, to avoid
post-operative complications », recalls the expert. They are completely useless, however, in the pathologies of
other nature, such as viral ones: Only in cases of bacterial overlaps, the doctor may
suggest its use. The same rules apply to coronavirus patients too.

It is essential to always rely on the opinion of the doctor, the only one who can possibly understand
also by requesting specific tests, the cause of the disease in progress and establishing the most appropriate treatment.
Extreme care must be taken. Use antibiotics in situations where they are not needed
the risk of bacteria developing resistance to them increases. Consequently, when
these drugs will be really needed and may no longer work.

It is not always easy to understand how these medicines should be used: this does not justify, however,
any errors, especially if repeated. If in doubt, ask your doctor for clarification. “Use a
antibiotic at lower doses than those prescribed for that specific situation is almost equivalent
always to nullify its effectiveness and, therefore, to hinder healing », explains Professor Tinelli.
It’s not okay to overdo it either: too long doses could increase the effects
collateral, as well as the likelihood of developing resistance to these drugs. For each person
you have to “tailor the dose”, taking into account that chronic diseases and old age can
alter the absorption of medicines, increasing the risk of dangerous overdoses.

Also hiring hours must be respected carefully. Antibiotics have a pattern of
very rigid administration: generally, they should be taken every 24,12, 8 or even 6 hours.
“Usually, you can exceed a maximum of one hour»Explains the infectious disease specialist. If you don’t respect them
these intervals, the blood level of the drug does not always remain constant, so the bacteria
they may be able to hide in the organism and reproduce, with the result of rendering it ineffective the cure. But when should they be hired? It depends from molecule to molecule: some must be taken before
meals, others on an empty stomach. To regulate, always follow your doctor’s instructions.

The temptation is strong for anyone, but antibiotic treatment should never be stopped prematurely, even if
symptoms improve. These are, in fact, particular drugs, different from antipyretics and from
anti-inflammatories (which must be used when needed): to be able to attack the microorganism
responsible for the ongoing infection and defeat it, antibiotics need a long time
adequate, which differs from case to case. “By discontinuing therapy early, you are allowing yourself to
bacteria to regenerate and often also to become more aggressive: therefore, not only do you risk not
to heal, but also to favor the selection of increasingly resistant pathogens»Says the professor
Tinelli. Here because the cure almost always lasts from 3 to 14 days, with rare exceptions.

With antibiotics the do-it-yourself should be avoided in the most absolute way. Never self-prescribe a
antibacterial, perhaps asking the pharmacist to sell it even without a prescription. AND May
use old, unused or already opened packages, even more so if they are in the pharmacy of
house for some time, they have not been carefully preserved (for example, they have been kept
too hot or in any case not in a cool and dry place) or even have expired. In case
on the contrary, it promotes antibiotic resistance, as well as risking various side effects, such as
gastrointestinal problems.

Before handling an antibiotic, always remember to wash your hands. The latter, in fact,
they represent one of the main vehicles of transmission of microorganisms: after all, they affect every
day hundreds of different surfaces and objects, parts of the body, foods. “Hand washing is in
able to break down bacterial and viral loads from 50% to 70% », assures Tinelli. «Therefore, in order
to fight and prevent an infection, you have to learn how to wash your hands with more soap and water
times a day bearing in mind that it is not enough to just rinse them, but you have to rub them once
against each other for no less than half a minute“. All the more reason, this maneuver is essential
after going to public places, taking the subway, train or bus, going to the bathroom, having
manipulated food (in this case even before).

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