What is antimicrobial resistance?

(NC) You may have heard the term “antimicrobial or antibiotic resistance” — but what does it really mean? And why should you care? Antibiotics are medicines that can quickly help to treat some types of infection caused by bacteria. Antimicrobial resistance means that various types of germs survive even when medicines are used to treat them.

When antibiotics are used too much or not used in the right way, they may not work anymore. Antibiotic resistance means that the bacteria that are making you sick no longer respond to the antibiotic and you continue to be sick. Without urgent action, we are heading toward a future in which infections and minor injuries once cured by antibiotics, could once again kill.

Few new antibiotics are being developed, so we need to treat them as a non-renewable resource. We need to do everything we can to maintain the effectiveness of existing antibiotics. There are two ways that you can help: avoiding illness; and, only using antibiotics when they are really needed.

You can avoid illness by:

• Washing your hands frequently

• Getting vaccinated and keeping vaccinations up to date

• Cleaning common surfaces with soap and water

• Staying home when sick

• Storing, handling and preparing food safely

• Practicing safer sex

Not all illnesses can or should be treated with antibiotics. Proper diagnosis by a healthcare provider is the first step. If you’re prescribed antibiotics, make sure you use them only as directed:

• Do not share antibiotics with anyone or use leftover antibiotics

• Return unused antibiotics to a pharmacy for safe disposal. Do not dispose of them in the trash, toilet or sink.

Find more information online at canada.ca/antibiotics.



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