What can you do about antimicrobial resistance?

by | Jun 22, 2023 | Health and Wellness

You may have heard of antimicrobial resistance, also referred to as AMR. It occurs when microbes like bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites develop a resistance to the drugs we use to treat them. They are adapting faster than our ability to create new antimicrobials to fight them. It may be a scary thought to realize medications we commonly use might stop making us better, but did you know that there are things you can do to help?

Slowing the development of AMR comes down to all of us doing our part, seeking medical attention when ill, and using antibiotics and other antimicrobials as prescribed.

Avoid getting sick. It might seem obvious, but one of the best ways to prevent AMR is to not need antimicrobials in the first place. Even some basic precautions really add up: wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face with unwashed hands, keep up to date with vaccinations and practice good first aid when you have a minor cut or scrape.

Understand when antibiotics are used. Antibiotics don’t fight viruses, so you likely won’t get one for a viral cold or flu. As noted, avoiding antimicrobials when they’re not necessary helps prevent antimicrobial resistance, and prolong effectiveness of the medication for those who do require it.

Take antibiotics exactly as prescribed. If you do get sick, following the prescription exactly is an essential tool for fighting AMR. Often, you’ll start feeling better partway after you start taking antimicrobials, and it can be tempting to stop taking your medication. Keep going until you’ve taken the medication exactly as prescribed.

Do the same for your pets. AMR is not unique to humans and animals are facing the same reality. To help avoid illness and infection in your pet, monitor their behaviour for early warning signs – loss of appetite, lack of energy and hiding, for instance.

Take advantage of cuddle time to check them for small scratches or injuries that aren’t immediately obvious, and treat as required. Take your pet to the vet regularly, and give them any prescriptions exactly as prescribed.

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