NORFOLK, Va. - According to the Centers for Disease Control, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest public health challenges of our time.
"Each year in the U.S., at least 2 million people get an antibiotic-resistant infection, and at least 23,000 people die," reads information on the CDC site. "Fighting this threat is a public health priority that requires a collaborative global approach across sectors."
News 3 medical expert Dr. Ryan Light explained ways we can reverse the problem on News 3 This Morning.
"Antibiotics resistance is caused by using antibiotics for viruses," explained Dr Light. "It is estimated that antibiotics are over prescribed as much as 33% of the time."
He added, "Antibiotics do not fight infections caused by viruses. Colds, the flu, most sore throats, and bronchitis are viral in nature. Many sinus and ear infections can get better without antibiotics; the body’s immune system does the work."
Dr. Light said when antibiotics are appropriately prescribed, it is critical for patients to follow the directions.
"It is very important to complete the entire prescribed dose of antibiotics," he stressed. "Antibiotics work by killing bacteria. Typically, the more easily killed bacteria die first and the stronger bacteria later during the prescription course. Stopping a prescription early allows the stronger bacteria to survive and become more resistant."
Dr. Light said inappropriate use of antibiotics leads problems like bacterial and fungal infections that develop resistance to our current antibiotic.
"These bacteria and fungi are called superbugs," he said. "Everyone one should practice good antibiotic stewardship to prevent the emergence of these superbugs."
Dr. Light said avoid the following when taking or considering antibiotics:
- Do not dictate treatment with antibiotics. Allow your health care provider to determine necessity.
- Never take a prescription not prescribe to you.
- Do not skip doses. Antibiotics work by maintaining a therapeutic level in the bloodstream.
- Do not terminate your prescription prematurely. Complete the course.