52% of Latvian residents use antibiotics whenever they get a cold. A quarter of them consume antibiotics on their own – using up the antibiotics left from the previous antibiotics treatment course, or getting antibiotics used in prior illness cases without prescription from a doctor, as concluded in a study performed by Silvanols and SKDS.
Study results confirm the data of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control that show antibiotics consumption in Latvia has had a tendency to increase in recent years. Results also clearly identify flaws in the order of prescription of antibiotics in Latvia.
Results prove that sometimes residents use antibiotics without a good reason. Pharmacists are also known to ‘sin’ in this regard by issuing antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription. A look at arbitrary use of antibiotics shows that more than 60% of patients have used antibiotics left from previous treatment course or given by friends or relatives.
«The fact that more than a quarter of patients use antibiotics arbitrarily whenever they get a cold is very troubling. It is related to the lack of general understanding and knowledge of cold treatment principles. Antibiotics are intended to treat bacterial infections. They are not intended to treat illnesses caused by viruses, such as cold and influenza,» – explains Silvanols product specialist Inga Zdanovska.
She emphasizes that a doctor decides whether or not antibiotics are necessary. Unfortunately, patients often demand antibiotics to be prescribed for every case, even when antibiotics are not needed. Unfortunately, some doctors obey. «It is worth keeping in mind that people are often unable to assess all risks associated with unjustified use of medicine. This is why it is necessary to ensure antibiotics are not prescribed and issued without a good reason,» – Zdanovska notes.
Most often antibiotics are used to treat cold by women and young people aged 18 to 24. Residents aged 55 and older are much more skeptical about treating cold with antibiotics.
Zdanovska emphasizes that correct prescription of antibiotics significantly improves the outcome of treatment of bacterial infections. She comments that antibiotics are irreplaceable when it comes to treatment of bacterial diseases; they can help save lives. «Nevertheless, before prescribing such medicine, it is necessary to see first if the illness is not caused by either a virus or infection. It is necessary to perform tests to avoid unjustified use of antibiotics, which can cause considerable risks to human health. One such risk is antimicrobial resistance,» – the specialist says.
Antimicrobial resistance – development of resistance to antibiotics among bacteria – is developed by improper or wrongful use of antibiotics to treat humans or animals, insufficient disease prevention and control measures.
Antimicrobial resistance is found in Latvia and elsewhere in the world. Scientists have been warning about this for years – it is one of the most serious health problems in the modern world. Microbes are becoming resistant to antibiotics. This makes it harder to treat patients. It is likely that it may become impossible to treat certain infections using antibiotics in the future.
«We need to consider better ways of increasing residents’ understanding of antimicrobial resistance and principles behind treatment and prevention of infections. Patients need to be informed of proper use of medicine. We also need to ensure doctors are able to prescribe natural and light medicine in some cases to ensure patients to not rush to buy antibiotics,» – Zdanovska concluded.