Norman Regional Health System

Friday, November 18, 2022

By Krishna Vedala, MD, MPH, internal medicine physician at Norman Regional’s Primary Care – South OKC clinic (405-912-3400)

U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week is recognized the week of November 18-24. The goal is to raise awareness about the importance of appropriate antibiotic use and to emphasize the dangers of antibiotic resistance.

What is Antibiotic Resistance and How Does It Occur?

As we all know, antibiotics help us fight many different common and serious infections. However, it's estimated that 28% of all antibiotics prescribed in the United States are often done in unnecessary situations.

Antibiotic resistance occurs through genetic mutations within the germs. The mutations allow the germs the ability to evade antibiotics and continue to grow.  Remember, all germs including fungi, bacteria and viruses are always trying to find ways to escape our efforts to get rid of them.

Why Is Antibiotic Resistance Important?

Antibiotic resistance affects everyone. Approximately 3,000,000 antibiotic resistant infections occur in the U.S. every year. There are also more than 35,000 deaths in the U.S. each year because of antibiotic resistance.  In addition, antibiotic resistance also hurts those of us who have weakened immune systems, often children and the elderly.

The other concerning issue is the lack of new antibiotics. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recorded that since 2017, there have only been two new class of antibiotics that have been developed. We are not investing enough in research for new antibiotics while bacteria is continuously evolving.

What Can I Do to Prevent Antibiotic Resistance?

  • Don’t pressure your doctors for antibiotics
  • Follow the exact instructions for antibiotic prescription as stated by your doctor
  • Don’t share your antibiotics with others
  • Don’t save your antibiotics for later
  • Follow tips on how to protect yourself so you won’t need to take antibiotics (handwashing, covering up while coughing, staying home when you’re sick, and getting recommended vaccinations)