The government has launched a campaign to remind the public that antibiotics do not help to treat viral infections such as coughs, colds and sore throats in a bid to reduce unnecessary requests for the drug.
The strategy, which will be promoted through adverts and posters, is the latest phase in a drive to tackle the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, which could make treatment for common bacterial infections, such as pneumonia, more difficult in the future.
The campaign aims to remind the public that medical advice is not normally necessary for a common cold. Only if a cough lasts longer than three weeks, they develop chest pains or have already had a chest complaint should they consult a doctor.
Chief medical officer for England Sir Liam Donaldson said: ‘Using antibiotics when they are not necessary will increase resistance to them and make it difficult to treat serious bacterial infections in the future.’
People are being advised that if they are suffering with cold and flu symptoms or a sore throat they should ‘rest, take plenty of fluids and speak to a pharmacist who will give advice on over-the-counter remedies that are available’.
In a statement, the British Medical Association (BMA) said: ‘Over a winter when viruses have been so prevalent it is timely for people to be reminded about the consequences of antibiotic misuse.
‘However, it is also important that no-one with a serious condition is discouraged from visiting their doctor,’ it said.
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