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Ask Dr Jyoti Sood your questions about when antibiotics are needed and the threat of antibiotic resistance to your family - chance to win £300 voucher! NOW CLOSED(149 Posts)
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Antibiotics have helped millions of people and are essential to treat serious bacterial infections. However they are frequently being used to treat illnesses; such as coughs, earache and sore throats, which can get better by themselves. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem and one which can put you and your family at risk of developing infections which can’t be easily treated with antibiotics. Public Health England has launched a new campaign called ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’, to warn about the dangers of taking antibiotics unnecessarily and urges people to take their doctor’s advice on antibiotics.
Dr Jyoti Sood is here to answer your questions about what antibiotics are used for, the threat antibiotic resistance poses for you and your family and general tips to keep your family well this winter. Whether you have questions about what illnesses can be treated with antibiotics, what antibiotic resistance is, what it means for you and your family and some self-care advice to help you to get better if you are feeling unwell but are not being treated with antibiotics, Dr Jyoti is here to help.
Dr Jyoti Sood has this to say: “As a GP I’m often asked to prescribe antibiotics by patients who think that they will cure all their ills. The reality is that antibiotics are not always needed because they are ineffective in treating viruses or, in the case of illnesses such as coughs, earache and sore throats, people can get better by themselves. Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them puts you and your family at risk of developing infections which in turn cannot be easily treated with antibiotics. The best advice is to always take your doctor’s advice and remember that your pharmacist can recommend medicines to help with your symptoms or pain.”
Please post your questions on the thread below and we’ll choose 20 for Dr Jyoti to answer and then post a link to the responses as soon as possible. Everyone who posts their questions will be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win a £300 voucher of their choice (from a list)
Here is some information about Dr Sood:
Dr Jyoti works as a GP in Redbridge, in a large urban practice. She trained in local hospitals and has been in the same practice for last 14 years.
She has a specialist interest in diabetes and dermatology and provides clinical support to these areas.
Dr Jyoti is the cancer and diabetes lead for Redbridge and has previously participated in public health campaign to promote awareness of signs and symptoms of cancer.
Thanks and good luck!
Standard Insight T&C’s apply
I'm a firm believer in waiting for things to get better, but generally how long do symptoms have to last before anti-biotics (assuming not a virus) are required?
How do GPs know what antibiotic to prescribe, please?
I don't live in the UK , and here a doctor will generally only prescribe antibiotics after a test to confirm that it's a bacterial infection. The test results take a day to come through, so if it's really really acute you'll get the ABs anyway, but in most cases it's possible to wait that extra day. And most doctors give me a prescription after the first visit and trust me to only get it filled if the results are positive for bacterial infection - which means I don't have to go to the surgery twice.
I've quite often been surprised just how difficult it is to really tell if a bacterial infection is at the bottom of feeling awful, or if it's just viral -I think a test is the only reliable way. It's saved me from taking a fair amount of unnecessary ABs over the years.
So the big question - why isn't this done in the UK too? I don't see that it can be for cost reasons - surely the cost of the extra ABs plus the costs of dealing with resistance are greater than the cost of doing the tests.
When you have a cough, is it true that a dry cough is worse than a loose cough. As a mum with two little ones, I always worry about longer term coughs.. (more than two weeks..)
A doctor at my local out of hours told us the other day that since the new rules on giving out less antibiotics have come into force, the stats on the amount of cases such as quinsy have increased. Is this true ? Thanks
A question I'd be too embarrassed to ask in real life- should I be doing something special with the spoon or syringe I use to give the antibiotics? Is a little pool of antibiotic resistant bacteria forming on the counter next to the sink where I dump it prior to washing? Does washing the traces of antibiotic off the spoon into the plug hole create any risk to the environment (as in more antibiotic resistant bacteria in sewers etc)?
Just a thought that popped into my head once and troubles me whenever the children have had antibiotics.
Can you explain how antibiotic resistance develops? Is it laterally across a population or generationally?
How long should I leave a suspected infection eg a UTI, to get better of its own accord, before giving in and asking for antibiotics?
what about prevention and other methods for treatment?
thinking of good hygiene, exercise, diet.
or gargling for a sore throat.
My 2 year old daughter was prescribed antibiotics recently for the first time for a bad chest and had a reaction to the penicillin and broke out in spots and was quite poorly (thankfully all better now).
I don’t know much about it but will this be a big issue in future if she needs antibiotics? Are there many different types / other options? Hopefully I won’t have to worry as we’re not a family to run to the doctors at the first sign of illness!
I am allergic to penicillin which caused a few problems when I had a kidney infection a few years ago and required IV antibiotics then a follow on tablet course. Are new antibiotics been developed? If you are allergic to penicillin do you have a great chance of resistance?
Does tonsillitis always need to be treated with an antibiotic?
what always comes up in conversation with friends is that bacterial infections have to be treated with antibiotics.
is that the case?
Not quite an antibiotics question but when medicine says "take 4 times a day" does that literally mean every 6 hours or does it mean 4 times during the the time while you are already awake?
do you think more can be done to educate parents on self care and self treatment for minor ailments, therefore reducing the need for anti biotics
Who is the real culprit when it comes to antibiotic resistance, misuse in human or industrial use for vows, pigs, chicken? What is the % of blame for each? Thank you
Since the non-prescribing guidelines have come into force, has there been any change in the number of serious incidents/ missed diagnoses/ cases of failure to prescribe appropriate treatment? Is this data collected under the umbrella of “probably should have been given antibiotics but wasn’t”?
My concern is that there is such a drive to reduce antibiotic use that doctors (not just GPs) do not always prescribe antibiotics when their use would actually be warranted.
Also how is the non prescribing policy impacting on pressures on other resources? E.g. have you found a change in consultation length, or the number of visits patients make for the same problem?
Are prescribing guidelines different when dealing with the immediate household of immune-compromised patients?
Not the patient (in my household, me) because they may well have instructions (eg contact haematology/oncology immediately day or night at first sign of infection), but the other household members in order to minimise exposure of vulnerable person to pathogens (ahead of certainty it’s bacterial or even prophylactically against secondaries)
I ask because I’m newly diagnosed with leukaemia (CML) and still learning about what is necessary/prudent to keep me healthy.
What's your opinion on the contribution of anti-bacterial products such as cleaning sprays, wipes and washing liquids to the issue of antibiotic resistance? Wouldn't we be better using plain soap and water in most cases?
In general how many patients do ask for antibiotics? We're the kind of family who tend to avoid the GPs as much as possible and would never ask. I'm interested to know how many you are asked for and how many you actually prescribe.
I had been drinking kefir and avoiding antibiotics throughout pregnancy but then was administered routine antibiotics before my Caesarean birth. Would this has affected baby's biome?
Can you explain what antibiotic resistance is, exactly? Do people become resistant, or the bugs themselves? Is there a real possibility of some new strain of illness cropping up that could be untreatable? That really scares me.
I in the past have had recurrent otitis externa so needed anti biotic ear drops and occasionally get impetigo/staph in my nose (think my job is part of the reason I catch things)
Do these always require antibiotics? Are there alternative?
I have suffered on quite a few occasions in my life with tonsillitis. On most occasions I've been given antibiotics and been back on my feet within a few days but once or twice they gp has refused to give me any and it's taken me a lot longer for it to go on it's own. Yes it always goes but it's horrendous. How do GP's make the decision of when antibiotics are warranted and when they are not?
Thankfully none of my children (ages ranging from 8- 16) have ever needed antibiotics.
I've never used antibacterial stuff round the home and erred on the side of slatternly when they were smaller - is this linked to having what might appear to be stronger immune systems?
As they've never had antibiotics, would the risk of resistance be lowered?
How much can UK GPs reducing antibiotic prescribing help, when usage is high in farming practices, and antibiotics are readily available (over the counter in the country im thinking of, and probably many other places) eksewhere? Can the UK really make a difference?
When we were on holidays in France, my son got a sore throat. At the clinic the doctor did a swab, (it was similar to a cheap pregnancy test) and said ‘if a line appears, he gets antibiotics’ sure enough a line appeared and we got the medicine.
I thought I was absolutely fantastic.
I really think a similar test in Ireland and the UK would be worth investigating.
My 17 year old daughter has been taking antibiotics for a couple of years now to help control her severe acne. She has tried three different types (prescription was changed due to side effects) which have all worked whilst she's taking the antibiotics but the acne returns once my daughter stops. We are both concerned about the long term effects of taking antibiotics and the possibility of her building up a resistance to them. However without them her skin is a mass of raw and painful spots. Is there an alternative to taking antibiotics?
I cannot wait for the day when you can go to your GP with an infection and you have a finger prick blood test to identify whether you have a viral or bacterial infection.
Our beautiful boy died of sepsis and as he had been bombarded with antibiotics for several years he was resistant to the strongest one Vancomycin at the time and antifungals.
Good opportunity to remind everyone that treatment of a dental abscess is
DRAINAGE ( extraction , incision , or commencement of root filling via drilling into the tooth and removing the soft inside "pulp" of the tooth. )
My baby has been prescribed antibiotics twice in his first year. Will this affect his resistance in the future?
If you do have to take antibiotics how helpful are probiotics?
Im thinking actimal and similar in helping with related side affects of antibiotics - Upset stomach, nausea? Or are they more of a placebo?
It concerns me now with antibiotic resistance when I give them to DD, I feel guilty that I may be setting her up in the future for more serious illnesses. Her ear infections/ache just haven't cleared up without antibiotics. She just gets worse. Sorry last bit isn't a question just an observation.
Do you think there is a risk of people getting too worried about antibiotic resistance so delaying treatment and illnesses getting worse than they could've been?
I'm allergic to penicillin and also very sensitive to the mycin group I will only take anti bis if I'm on deaths door now.
I'm interested in new antibiotics. How long to do realistically think these could take?
I have frequent sinusitis and although I try everything else to prevent and treat it, it always ends up needing antibiotics. My Dr insists on trying a very common first use antibiotic each time but (although it works great on me for other things) It's never made a difference and I always end up with a second course of something else. I mention my reluctance and previous experience with them each time but he insists.
Is this sort of thing adding to the problem and is there anything I can do to help (other than bringing it up each time)
Obviously antibiotic resistance is a big issue, but I'm thinking the problem is being made worse as there appears to be no financial incentive for the big pharmaceuticals to develop new antibiotics.
As mentioned previously why can't you be tested at your GP's to see if you have a bacterial or viral infection?
I’ve sometimes been given oral antibiotics rather than in drops, creams, sprays etc (skin or ear issues)
Is the oral antibiotic more of a problem than the external ones? Or are they equally problematic.
Some doctors have said later I didn’t need oral ones and that it’s old fashioned to give them for external problems.
Do you think that using long term low dose antibiotics (for example for moderate acne) is a risk in terms of becoming anti biotic resistant?
Is there a way to get antibiotics to keep in medicine box? I'm assuming not as most people wouldn't use them properly, but the year I got an infected wisdom tooth over a long Christmas bank holiday I would've been very appreciative.
My DM suffers from recurrent UTIs. Investigations show it's not a physiological issue, so they're considering prophylactic ABs for six months. How does that work in terms of resistance?
How does antibiotic resistance work? For example, I have only had antibiotics about four times in my 35 years of life. Surely it is only resistant in the people who jump to the drs with every cough or sniffle and somehow manage to get antibiotics from the GP. So if I suddenly need some AB then I would be fine taking them and they would work because personally I've never over used them.
Also, if AB have been over used then this makes me think GP's should really be at fault here. Why were they prescribing them for things they must have known were viral?
It's very unfortunate that you've reproduced Dr Sood's statement with obvious errors in it. It makes no sense and it's particularly daft to write "..because either because they are effective in treating viruses.."
My daughter (aged 23 months) suffers often with blocked tear ducts and sometimes I find it difficult to differentiate between this and conjunctivitis. If her eyes do appear slightly red, is it better to wait and see if they become worse, or go to see my if my GP can prescribe antibiotics? Many thanks
I'm allergic to a couple of antibiotics. I'm keen to know how many different types there are? Which ones don't cause stomach pain? I'm also really interested to learn about the development of new anti biotics. I had read in the news of a new type that might be grown from fungi- might this be still going ahead? Many thanks for taking the time to do this thread. It's really interesting.
What can we do with antibiotics that we have finished the course with but still have some left (thinking stuff like eye drops?). Can i take them back to the pharmacy to be destroyed?
Another question from me. Do you think the use or overuse of antibiotics in the animal farming/meat industry is adding to the problem?
I have a rare condition and see a professor at UCLH, my main treatment which I’m on is high dose abx which I’ve been on for four years now.
He reckons that abx overprescribing leading to resistance is not as much of an issue as the govt are saying. I do think that the real problem is routine use of abx in the food chain. I used to work on a chicken farm, when we had a new lorry load of chickens, they all got antibiotics on arrival.
Obviously people don’t need abx if it’s viral but do you think that the food chain issue needs sorting before telling women with a UTI who are in pain that because they’ve only got leukocytes and not nitrites on a dipstick that they can’t have abx?
I'm a strong believer in prevention is better than the cure so have you any general advice on how to stay fit, healthy & germ free?
Years ago I had a reaction to penicillin after being on it for 8 weeks due to cellulitis. The doctors now won’t prescribe it in case another reaction is fatal.
This means I now have to take weeks of clarithromycin if my cellulitis flares up. What happens if that stops working due to resistance? Are there any other antibiotics out there?
Can I keep left-over antibiotics for next time?
How do you know when a cold needs an antibiotic?
Is it important to complete a course of antibiotics or can they be saved for later use?
I have two relatives who have been prescribed antibiotics as a preventative measure as they have compromised immune systems (following different/ongoing illnesses) and have both had sepsis following infections. I worry that by taking antibiotics regularly to prevent infections it will be harder for doctors to treat them when they actually DO get a serious infection. Is this really the best cause of action for them?
What medical developments are in the pipeline for alternatives to antibiotics?
My son was prescribed several courses of antibiotics when he was younger for repeated ear infections. Does this mean that he will be less responsive now if he needs antibiotics again?
We avoid antibiotics if at all possible and always tell the GP we would rather not have them and recover naturally if we can. (We will ring back if want them later on) Is this OK or am I putting my children at risk?
Why aren’t the swab tests (to identify whether an infection is bacterial or viral) available elsewhere in Europe used here? Are they only good for throat infections or others too?
In the past I've been told that as an asthmatic I should always have antibiotics if I get a chest infection. But no two doctors seem to agree and no one gives clear guidance as to when I should go to the GP. Can you shed any light on this?
Hello I have had a cough since October and was recently prescribed steroids (42x5mg) as I was leaving the surgery, the GP offered me a prescription for Amoxillan "just incase you don't get better in 3 days".
I was tachycardic and had a temp of 39.5.
I haven't taken the ab but still have the cough, a head cold and sore throat. I assume this is viral - how would you know this as a GP and how can you prescribe with confidence?
Is the policy to cut back on antibiotic prescriptions just for adults? I'm assuming it doesn't apply to babies. What age is the cut-off for fewer antibiotic prescriptions?
I'd like to know how you decide whether to prescribe ABs or not? I often end up back at the doctors a week later and end up with a prescription.
I would also like to know how you decide whether to prescribe antibiotics or not?
Also I rarely take my DC to the GP when they're ill as I don't like to feel I've wasted your time and took an appointment from someone else in more need, so what symptoms can I look for that would suggest they need antibiotics?
I've just started a course of antibiotics for a week, (doxycycline) can I still drink alcohol over xmas?
What determines whether an antibiotic will be prescribed? Recently DH had an infection in his finger - red, angry, painful, moving down his finger, looked like a clear infection to me. Went to see a GP who said no antibiotics, will clear up on its own and burst it 'to relieve pressure'. 2 days later DH in agony with it, saw a different GP who said he should have been prescribed antibiotics last time.
So it seems that how can we know when antibiotics are appropriate if the Drs can't agree themselves?
My daughter is 3 and has asthma inhalers due to a weak chest (problems at birth). Every year we struggle with whether we should take her to the Drs or not because of a cough. We don't want her to become resistant to antibiotics however there doesn't seem to be any alternative. When we do take her we are often made to feel guilty for not bringing her sooner (we will only take her if cough sounds chesty or if she's had it for 10days+). We find a humidifier with peppermint or eucalyptus oil helps clear some of it but only after cough has started. Is there any advice or guidance for prevention or alternative treatments for a cough so that antibiotics are not the only option?
Is there an easy way to tell if a cough is a chest infection which might need antibiotics as opposed to an annoying ongoing cough after a cold which will resolve in time?
We don't want her to become resistant to antibiotics
There a lot of comments like this on this thread. People do not become resistant, the bacteria does. So with that in mind, and combined with many bacterial infections beginning their life on the other side of the world with mutations occurring during their progress around the globe, I’d like to ask how effective does the Dr think restricting/decreasing their use in the UK (and other European countries) will actually be long term? I have lived in many countries where antibiotics can be bought over the counter, mainly in Asia. Even in a country like Singapore, where you might expect the health system to be more regulated, I can tell you that if I go to (the excellent) local GP, where I will pay something like SGD70.00 to be seen, if I make it clear I want antibiotics then I will definitely be walking out with them. In addition, in many Asian countries you will be prescribed a much stronger and much longer course of antibiotics than you would in Europe, whether you need them or not. That in itself is a huge problem with regard to resistance. I definitely agree that antibiotic use should be much more strictly administered but would be interested in Dr Soods opinion on how this can ever happen if it is not a world wide initiative.
If you have an allergy to Penicillin which antibiotics should you not have?
Adding onto Judashascome point, here is a basic diagram explaining some of the ways bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics (sorry to hijack Dr Sood!)
After working in a pharmacy for some time (final year pharmacy student here!), I was stunned by the number of antibiotic prescriptions we had to dispense. Understandably, it's hard without seeing the patients but do you think all of the prescriptions are necessary?
Do you think there's enough microbial resistance awareness amongst all healthcare professionals, or could there be more collaborative working?
I find ear infections for my DD a constant concern. It is never obvious when she has one until I am at the GPs with a child with a clearly gunky ear who is then prescribed antibiotics. I get moaned at by the GP but at no point has it cleared up by itself in the past (see also tonsillitis and conjunctivitis for this trait). What are we expected to do to manage this?
What are the most common uses for antibiotics? I have read about people taking them when they don't really need them, but when would you decide that they are necessary?
Can a UTI be treated without antibiotics at all?
what is the best way to prevent a cough from becoming something more sinister that may require antibiotics?
I'm not the doctor but have those of you asking about UTI tried d mannose
In the past I've used garlic sliver wrapped in tissue in the ear to cure ear ache. Leave it in a few days. Pain gone. Worked for me and my dd.
what is the best way to prevent a cough from becoming something more sinister that may require antibiotics?
Should health, minor illness and antibiotic use be taught to older children in schools? It seems so many parents grab the calpol at any sign of a fever when it isn’t always needed and often demand antibiotics for viral infections that children need to be taught about this to break the cycle.
How do GP's know if something is viral or bacterial, and thus requires antibiotics?
what do you think about GPs prescribing antibiotics for viral illnesses to get patients off their backs? (I've heard one did this for someone I know!!).
Also what do you think of natural antibiotic foods e.g. garlic, honey etc - do you encourage patients to use them? are you allowed?
Are there foods which should be avoided i.e. types of meat due to antibiotics being consumed due to them entering the food chain?
How can unused antibiotics be disposed of safely?
If I had to take certain antibiotics whilst pregnant, would that have built resistance in my unborn child?
Why would this be a problem in the first place- surely docs should be trained to assertively refuse to prescribe antibiotics where they see no point?
Sorry I realise a lot from me but it does confuse and interest me in equal measures lol.
If ever there was any proof antibiotics dont work on colds: I had a serious dental infection and was prescribed two antibiotics together, high doses, 3 times a day for a week. And I caught a heavy cold whilst on antibiotics. So clearly they dont work if I got a cold while taking them.
I am prone to bad coughs as I used to have asthma. I usually just persevere at home. What are the signs a cough needs to be checked by a doctor?
Is there anything we can take/ eat/do as an alternative to antibiotics in mild infections?
I have a disabled DS with a rare gene mutation and he gets very ill often. They are discussing using long term antibiotics. I'm so concerned as he must have at least 10 doses of oral antibiotics a year and 3 via IV.
Why are we not worried about long term heath conditions and antibiotics?
I am allergic to penicillin - is it likely that my children are also allergic? Do I need to tell the doctor - can it still be prescribed to them?
My problem is that sometimes the children have been ill for a while and they need a check up as I am not a HCP I leave the GPs feeling like I was asking for illegal drugs rather than just making sure it isn’t anything more serious. So when should the be checked out if they have been having paracetamol and ibuprofen for a few days.
Antibiotics are essential when needed at the right time to treat a illness but are there any other remedies that are as good (herbal treatments)?
How do doctors decide what needs antibiotics, do they worry about not giving them and then a patient getting really ill?
Which is your favourite- Dr Ranj or the Chris and Xand?
"they are ineffective in treating viruses or, in the case of illnesses such as coughs, earache and sore throats, people can get better by themselves. "
This is hard to follow.
I understand that antibiotics have no effect on viruses.
I think you are saying that bacterial infections involving coughs, earache and sore throats are responsive to antibiotics but would usually resolve anyway, is that right?
"Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them puts you and your family at risk of developing infections which in turn cannot be easily treated with antibiotics."
Why? By what pathway? Is the reference to "you and your family" code for "the general population?"
There is a lot of vagueness in these public health messages.Is this deliberate?
I’m currently on antibiotics for a bad throat infection (merry Christmas!!) does this mean I can’t drink alcohol on Christmas Day?
As Granny is on chemo, she seems to be prescribed antibiotics at the drop of a hat. Is there any danger her body will become so used to them they'll eventually become ineffective?
Also worry about the children passing something on as we see them at least couple of times a week. Obviously if they're showing signs of being ill, we keep away, but we know children are often infectious long before anything becomes obvious....
Mumsnet When will the doctors answers be on here please?
Is it true that if snot/mucus has been bright green for a certain amount of time you should have antibiotics?
Are doctors now taking responsibiilty for over prescribing ?
We often hear how AB's aren't suitable for coughs cold etc but how on earth do patients get AB's when it's GP's prescribing ? They are the gatekeepers of medicines..are they bowing to pressure or just being lazy ?
As a family, we my OH who is allergic to Penicillin, though fortunetly has not had any need of them for 50 years. Myself had AB's this year for Mastitus, the first lot for 14 years. My DC's (31, 11) have never had any. I realise we are lucky to not of needed any, do worry about the possibilty of future resistant bugs
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