Test your awareness of antibiotics

Run by the World Health Organization, World Antibiotic Awareness Week runs from November 13 - 19, 2017. And this year the event’s main message is to seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before taking antibiotics.

This message is aimed at people living in countries where you can buy antibiotics without a prescription. And while you can’t buy antibiotics over the counter here, a 2014 report by the WHO revealed there were 19 countries across Europe where antibiotics were easy to obtain.

The UK has much stricter rules about antibiotics, which means they’re only legally available on prescription in this country. But how much do you know about antibiotics and taking them safely?

The Antibiotic Guardian campaign, run by Public Health England, has devised an antibiotics quiz. See how many of the following questions you can get right (the quiz was developed for healthcare staff, so even if you get a few right you’re doing pretty well):

Which of the following statements are true or false?

1. Antibiotic resistance is when an antibiotic no longer works. The more you use an antibiotic, the more bacteria become resistant to it.

Answer: TRUE.

2. Antibiotic resistance is just a UK problem and is not a problem world wide.

Answer: FALSE (antibiotic resistance is a global problem).

3. Antibiotics have no side effects.

Answer: FALSE (they have many side effects, some of which can be serious).

4. Antibiotics may help virus infections such as colds get better more quickly.

Answer: FALSE (antibiotics only kill bacteria, not viruses).

5. Not treating minor infections with antibiotics which would get better without is a way of reducing the development of resistance.

Answer: TRUE (the fewer antibiotics used, the slower resistance will develop).

6. Taking antibiotics at a lower dose than prescribed will help prevent resistance developing.

Answer: FALSE (lower doses encourage the development of resistance as they don’t reach high enough concentrations at the site of infection).

7. Buying antibiotics over the internet is not recommended because antibiotics should only be taken when prescribed by your healthcare provider.

Answer: TRUE (you should not self medicate with antibiotics, plus medicines bought over the internet may not contain what they claim to contain or may be contaminated with poisons or other chemicals).

8. You should take your antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor because the infection may not be completely killed if you don’t follow the instructions. This could allow resistant bacteria to then infect you.

Answer: TRUE (always take the whole course prescribed to make sure all the bacteria are killed)

If you answered most of these questions correctly, you’ll probably already know that antibiotics will not treat cold and flu symptoms. So if you catch a winter bug this year, don’t ask your GP for antibiotics. In fact the best person to ask about how to soothe your symptoms and get back on your feet again quickly is your local Careway pharmacist, who can recommend over-the-counter medicines that would be best for you.

Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.