This blog has been paid for by and created in partnership with Pfizer UK
Through all the health issues we experience as families, one of the things we take for granted is that when we have serious infections, we can turn to antibiotics to get well again. But the rise of Superbugs means that even routine operations like C-sections and some commonplace infections could become untreatable, even life-threatening.
It’s a scary thought: that an infected scrape or strep throat could turn into a major health crisis, that anyone with a weakened immune system like those getting chemotherapy treatment for cancer could be at risk for some commonplace infections.
We are not powerless though. As parents and families we can take important steps that make a difference in the fight against Superbugs. We can help ensure that antibiotics continue to work when we need them. (We are working with Pfizer UK in a paid project to promote the ways that we can join the fight against Superbugs.)
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a long name for the rise of Superbugs and it is a big problem. AMR arises when the micro-organisms which cause infection (e.g. bacteria) survive exposure to a medicine that would normally kill them or stop their growth – creating the so-called Superbugs. Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, but misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process.
Here’s a shocking fact: The World Health Organisation characterises AMR as one of the biggest threats to global public health today. The UK’s outgoing Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies has said that superbugs ‘could kill us before climate change does’.
What you can do about Superbugs
Yes, you can make a difference and join the fight! Little things we do as families make an important contribution to slowing AMR.
Show your children the correct way to wash hands and stay hygienic
Reminding our kids to wash their hands after visiting the loo, before eating, after taking public transport – it’s a recurring chore for parents. But it represents the first-line of good practices, that also extends to washing overall and cleaning cuts and scrapes when they occur. Here’s some clear guidance from the NHS, including the memorable tip that they should wash their hands through two rounds of Happy Birthday!
Respond to illness thoughtfully
Not every illness needs antibiotics (ABs). With colds and flu, they make absolutely no difference at all as those illnesses are caused by viruses! We can teach our children to know the difference and not think of antibiotics as the first step whenever they feel ill.
Keep vaccinations up to date
Make sure your family’s jabs are up to date to stop infections before they begin. This applies to the adults as well as the children so keep a record of your own as well. Don’t worry: the nurse will give you a sticker afterward.
Use antibiotics correctly, according to instructions
We needed a round of antibiotics recently and it was a good reminder to always take the full course, following the timeline of dosage and only taking antibiotics that are prescribed for us and for this specific condition.
Tips for using ABs correctly:
- We write down the doctor’s instructions during the appointment – it makes them easier to remember than relying on the prescription label and easier to share instructions with your partner for those times when the kids are taking ABs
- When our antibiotics come in foil packets (rather than in pill bottles), we use a marker to write the day on each dose
- We set our phone’s alarm to make sure we don’t miss a dose (very important when you’re taking it every 6 hours!)
- We put a note in our calendar marking the day the course of antibiotics starts and when it ends
- Never share your prescription with other people
Spread the word
This is perhaps the most powerful thing we can do – we can #JoinTheFight and urge everyone we know to take action with these steps outlined above. We have vital opportunities to fight AMR in our everyday lives: reminding family members that they can look after their cold at home (and bringing round some soup instead), creating a routine of hand-washing when everyone returns from work or school, highlighting the issue on our social media accounts (especially helpful during cold and flu season!).
To win the fight, we need everyone to take action. By reminding friends and family to fight AMR, we can keep antibiotics working so we can use them when we really need them!
Get more information about AMR, share this on your social media and #JoinTheFight!
Date of prep: Nov 2019