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Be Antibiotics Aware

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Kicking off U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week November 13-19 and World Antibiotic Awareness Week, Antelope Valley Medical Center joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in encouraging patients, families and healthcare professionals to "Be Antibiotics Aware" by learning about safe antibiotic prescribing and use.

Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people get infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. At least 23,000 die as a result. Antibiotic resistance, one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health, occurs when bacteria no longer respond to the drugs designed to kill them.

"It’s important for the public to understand what can and cannot be treated with antibiotics," said Jill Bennett, PharmD, APh, BCPS, clinical pharmacy coordinator for AV Hospital. "As healthcare professionals, we must be careful to only prescribe antibiotics when they are required to treat a bacterial infection."

Antibiotics are critical tools for treating a number of common infections, such as pneumonia, and for life-threatening conditions including sepsis. Antibiotics are only needed for treating certain infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotics won’t help some common bacterial infections including most cases of bronchitis, many sinus infections, and some ear infections.

Any time antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance. When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help, and the side effects could still hurt you. Common side effects range from things like rashes and yeast infections to severe health problems like Clostridium difficile infection (also called C. difficile or C. diff), which causes diarrhea that can lead to severe colon damage and death.

Patients and families should talk to a doctor or pharmacist if they have any questions about their antibiotics; if their condition worsens or improves; or if they develop side effects, especially diarrhea, since that could be C. difficile, which needs to be treated.

"If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed," adds Bennett. "However, if you start feeling better during the course of antibiotic treatment, talk to your physician. With treatment improvement, your doctor may choose to shorten your planned course of antibiotics."

Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as colds and flu, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow or green. Respiratory viruses usually go away in a week or two without treatment.

Patients and families can ask their healthcare professional about the best way to feel better while their body fights off the virus.

We can all stay healthy and keep others healthy by washing our hands, covering our coughs, staying home when sick, and getting recommended vaccines, for the flu, for example.

Antibiotics save lives. When a patient needs antibiotics, the benefits outweigh the risks of side effects and antibiotic resistance. Improving the way we take antibiotics helps keep us healthy now, helps fight antibiotic resistance, and ensures that life-saving antibiotics will be available for future generations.

To learn more about "Be Antibiotics Aware" resources and antibiotic prescribing and use, visit