Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Why antibiotics aren't always the answer.

This week is European Antibiotic Awareness Week! I have some interesting dates in my diary, don't I?

It is all about using antibiotics wisely so that they will still be effective against bugs now and for future generations.

If you are still reading this, then please carry on reading the handy questions from the Scottish Antibicrobial Prescribing Group (I told you, I have an interesting life!!!) to find out what you can do to play your part in responsible antibiotic use.

How should I treat my cold?
The best way to treat most colds, coughs or sore throats is to drink plenty of fluids and to rest. Colds can last about two weeks and may end with a cough and bringing up phlegm. There are many over the counter remedies to ease the symptoms – paracetamol, for example. Ask your pharmacist for advice. If the cold lasts more than three weeks, or you become breathless or have chest pains, or already have a chest complaint, see your doctor.
What about my children, they’re always getting coughs and colds?

Why should antibiotics not be used to treat coughs and colds?
All colds and most coughs and sore throats are caused by viruses. Antibiotics do not work against infections, such as colds, caused by viruses. Viral infections are much more common than bacterial infections.
What are antibiotics?
Antibiotics are important medicines used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Bacteria can adapt and find ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic. They become ‘antibiotic resistant’ so that the antibiotic no longer works. The more often we use an antibiotic, the more likely it is that bacteria will become resistant to it. Some bacteria that cause infections in hospitals, such as MRSA, are resistant to several antibiotics.
Why can’t different antibiotics be used instead?
They can, but they may not be as effective, and they may have more side-effects. And eventually the bacteria will become resistant to them too. We cannot be sure we will always be able to find new antibiotics to replace the old ones. In recent years fewer new antibiotics have been discovered.
How can antibiotic resistance be avoided?
By using antibiotics less often we can slow down the development of resistance. It’s not possible to stop it completely, but slowing it down stops resistance spreading and buys some time to develop new types of antibiotics.
What can I do about antibiotic resistance?
By only using antibiotics when it’s appropriate to do so. We now know that most coughs and colds get better just as quickly without antibiotics. When they are prescribed, the complete course should be taken in order to get rid of the bacteria completely. If the course isn’t completed, some bacteria may be left to develop resistance.
So when will I be prescribed antibiotics?
Your doctor will only prescribe antibiotics when you need them, for example for a kidney infection or pneumonia. Antibiotics may be life-saving for infections such as meningitis. By not using them unnecessarily, they are more likely to work when we need them.

Are you ready for the first aid challenge

A few weeks ago, one of my mummy friends had a horrific experience with her youngest son. Through a freak accident at home he ended up with a fractured skull, a terrifying wait for an ambulance and a worrying time in Edinburgh's Sick Kids Hospital.

I am delighted to say he is fine and as smiley as ever, but it got us talking at one of our regular mum meet-ups about what we would do in a similar situation. Would we know what to do in case of an emergency? How would you go about giving first aid to a toddler?

I vaguely remember thinking it would be a good idea to do a refresher first aid course for babies when I was pregnant with my first child, and then I got a bit busy with the business of being a mummy, and here I am nearly four years later, and no further on with this partucular piece of self development.

So, I had a look around and was delighted ot see that the Red Cross are running a First Aid Challenge to encourage parents to learn first aid

There are three main ways to get involved in the Challenge:
1. Learn first aid online.
2. Take a first aid course.
3. Ask your local school if they teach first aid.

There are even discounts off courses and the chance of winning £500 in a prize draw!

What more reason do you need to learn first aid?

Monday, 5 November 2012

Ask your pharmacist.

Today is the first day of Ask Your Pharmacist Week 2012. This annual campaign aims to raise the profile of community pharmacy and the services on offer.

This year, the focus is on encouraging men to take a more active interest in their medicines, and drawing attention to the pharmacy based services available to them.

According to a new survey by the National Pharmacy Association, there are sharp gender differences in medicines behaviours and men are missing out on free professional help.
The survey of 1,700 UK adults shows:
  • More men than women admit that their understanding of medicines is poor (23.1% against 15.6 women)
  • Men are twice as likely than women to take a new prescription medicine without first reading the patient information leaflet or seeking professional advice (10.9% of men against 5.1 women)
  • A third of men (31%) get their partner to collect their prescription medicines
  • Men tend to rely on their female partners to stock the household medicines cabinet   
  • Nearly nine in ten men say they don’t like to trouble a doctor or pharmacist unless they have a “serious problem”.  37% of people – men and women - worry about taking time off work to seek professional advice when they are ill.
With the help of your Barnton Pharmacyhave a private consultation areas, where you can talk with the pharmacist without being overheard.
Pharmacies are well placed for men because they are generally accessible and less formal– you can just pop in without an appointment. Men and women should feel free to ask at your pharmacy anything about your health and wellbeing – it’s not just a place to pick up pills!

Here are some examples of questions you might never have thought to ask your pharmacist. Is it time you did?
  • Can you tell me about reducing my risk of a heart attack or stroke?
  • I have difficulties controlling my bladder. Can you help?
  • I am worried about cancer. Should I go to my GP?
  • I would like to talk with someone about my sexual health.
  • I am taking medicines for a long term medical condition. Please can we talk about how they work and possible side effects?
  • I am a smoker. Can you help me give up?
  • Is there a local self help group for people with my condition?