A leading Brighton and Hove doctor is urging patients to think before asking for antibiotics.
Dr Tom Scanlon said that over winter family doctors tend to be inundated with requests for antibiotics.
He warned that as a result more bacteria were becoming resistant to the drugs, putting patients at risk of serious infections.
Dr Scanlon, the director of public health for Brighton and Hove, said: “We have seen great improvements in treating infections over the years.
“But with this success has come problems such as increased resistance in some organisms and other illnesses such as clostridium difficile infection which can be life threatening.
“Doctors need to be conscious of the risks and benefits of treating patients with antibiotics.
“And patients too can help by not requesting antibiotics for self-limiting infections such as sore throats, colds and flu.
“Pharmacists are available to give advice on treatments that can relieve unpleasant symptoms.”
Brighton and Hove City Teaching Primary Care Trust – also known as NHS Brighton and Hove – is working with other PCTs in Sussex to try to reduce our reliance on antibiotics.
It said: “More than 159,750 antibiotic prescriptions were issued to Brighton and Hove residents by GPs in primary care between October 2009 and September 2010.
“While this is comparatively fewer than many other areas of the country, this number is on the rise.”
It said that most antibiotics are taken during the winter months.
And the trust added that people could treat themselves at home for many of the common seasonal illnesses with a well-stocked medicine cabinet.
It said: “Antibiotics are no use against viral infections like colds, flu or norovirus – otherwise known as ‘winter flu’ – which causes vomiting and diarrhoea.
“If you do become unwell with any of these viruses you should stay at home, rest and use over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol.
“It’s also important to remember it is very common for children to get coughs and colds, especially when they go to school and mix with other children.
“Ask your pharmacist for advice on what to keep at home.”
The trust added: “If a child’s symptoms persist and you are concerned, do go and see your doctor.
“If you have another medical condition and are at particular risk from complications from viral infections, you should seek the advice of your GP.
“You should also make sure that you get vaccinated with the influenza vaccine which will help in preventing flu.”
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