Antibiotic Awareness Day - 18/11

Jacob Collyer-Smith Lifestyle Writer

Antibiotic Awareness Day is a pan-European public health initiative.  It has been designed by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control to encourage the responsible use of antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is an increasingly serious healthcare issue and it's growing at an alarming rate in the U.K, Europe and the rest of the world.

NHS antibiotics campaign


Bacteria are one of the most adaptable organisms on the planet. They are able to quickly change their behaviour, form and, in some cases, even alter their DNA to adapt to their environment. If antibiotics are used irresponsibly, pathogenic bacteria are not always fully eradicated and this is how they are able to adapt and become resistant to antibiotic treatment.

What can you do about it?

Antibiotics are extremely important medicines and are absolutely necessary for certain health conditions, but the Department of Health only recommends that they are taken when prescribed by a healthcare professional.

All you have to do to help slow the increase in antibiotic resistance is take them as directed. Make sure that you use the correct dosage, at the right time of day and, most importantly; ensure that you complete the treatment course.

Currently, 1 in 5 people in the U.K do not finish their antibiotic treatment due to antibiotic associated side effects. These include diarrhoea, thrush and, in more severe cases, infections of the superbug Clostridium difficile.

The Department of Health currently recognises the problems associated with antibiotic associated side effects and one of their messages is:

“Antibiotics can upset the natural balance of bacteria in your body. This allows other more harmful bacteria to increase. This may result in diarrhoea and thrush.”

If you’ve got a cold, antibiotics won’t help

The unnecessary prescription of antibiotics, particularly for mild infections, significantly contributes to antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are not necessary for colds and most coughs, earaches and sore throats, as they will often get better without medication. Furthermore, any infections caused by yeasts and viruses are completely unaffected by antibiotic treatment; antibiotics are only effective in killing bacteria.

The best practice when you’re ill is to support your immune system with plenty of rest and fluids. Supplements such as Vitamin C may also help.

Where next?

The Department of Health and its advisory committee on Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infections (ARHAI) have given their full support to the campaign here in the U.K, and have signed up to the World Health Organisation's European Strategic Action Plan on Antibiotic Resistance.

We’re a big fan of the work that the Department of Health have done on this campaign and we particularly like the videos and these very colourful posters.

NHS antibiotics poster