Did you know that antimicrobial resistance has been described as one of the greatest threats to humans?
According to the World Health Organisation, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is already affecting the care of many and will have a greater impact over time.
Therefore, we thought we would share some information to help you or someone you love to understand antimicrobial resistance, helping prevent and reduce the further emergence and spread.
What is antimicrobial resistance?
Antimicrobial resistance forms when bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites change over time meaning that they develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them.
Antimicrobial resistance can affect anyone which is why it is a global threat.
Why is antimicrobial resistance a major concern?
It is a growing concern because it will make infections harder to treat increasing the risk of the infection spreading which could be fatal for some.
Antimicrobial resistance can be the consequence of inappropriate use or overusing medication used to treat an illness.
As you age, it is common to experience health conditions as your body gradually slows down leaving many older Australians with weaker immune systems, changes in body organs and chronic illnesses such as diabetes.
For those with pre-existing medical conditions antimicrobial resistance can be dangerous, as many are likely to experience:
- Delayed sickness.
- Increased health care and medication costs.
- Exposure to different antibiotics which could cause harmful side effects.
- More complex care.
- Risk of spreading the illness to others.
According to data published in Lancet, inappropriate antibiotic use in Australia will change modern medicine if we don’t act now.
How do we prevent antimicrobial resistance?
Because the resistance is generally accelerated by misuse and overuse of antibiotics, steps can be taken both individually, by health professionals and policymakers to better prevent it.
There are many things you can do to minimise your risk of antimicrobial resistance such as:
1. Washing your hands regularly.
2. Keeping up to date on all your vaccinations.
3. Only taking medication when necessary.
4. Understanding that antibiotics only work against bacteria, not the flu or cold which are caused by viruses.
You can find more information about this here: https://www.amr.gov.au/what-you-can-do/general-public/use-antibiotics-only-when-suitable
5. Following your doctor’s instructions when prescribed antibiotics.
6. Researching other ways to relieve your symptoms.
The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has great resources explaining how we can better do this. Antimicrobial stewardship is an important program they have implemented to help achieve this goal. It covers a range of activities that promote, and support optimal antimicrobial prescribing and use.
Why is antimicrobial stewardship important?
It is important because it involves interventions that promote optimal antibiotic use, such as choosing the right drug, dosage, and duration of administration.
This is key when it comes to minimising antimicrobial resistance as its primary aim is to reduce patient harm ensuring the appropriate use.
As a result of antimicrobial stewardship programs, inappropriate dosages of antibiotics have been reduced, patient outcomes have been improved and side effects have been minimised.
What is the difference between a virus and a bacteria?
The function of antibiotics is to kill bacteria and slow or stop their growth.
Taking antibiotics to cure a virus will not work as it does not work against infections caused by a virus such as a flu, cold or sore throat.
If you take antibiotics to cure a virus or when you don’t need them, it could:
- Cause normal body bacteria to develop resistance to that antibiotic.
- Put you at risk of developing side effects, for example, diarrhoea or an upset stomach.
Antibiotics can be used to treat illnesses like urinary tract infections, strep throat or whooping cough.
If you are unsure whether your illness is caused by a virus or bacteria, please consult your doctor.
What is being done in Australia to reduce antimicrobial resistance?
Plenty of things are being implemented to raise awareness and fight against antibiotic resistance. The Australian government have committed $22.5 million to help prevent and fight antibiotic resistance.
The government will be investing more to facilitate the surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in human health in Australia ensuring that any threats are detected.
What to do if you have concerns about antimicrobial resistance:
Antimicrobial resistance is a risk for many older Australians, so being aware of it, the risks and what you can do to help avoid it is important. We hope you have found this blog post helpful in learning more about antimicrobial resistance.
If you are unsure about which medication you can take please reach out to your Doctor. If you need assistance with medication prompting, please reach out to your Care Manager and we can see if this could be included through your Home Care Package.
At Let’s Get Care, we offer a range of services making tasks like taking your daily medication easy and seamless.
To learn more, feel free to reach out to our expert team on 1300 497 442.