2 June 2003
In the face of the annual winter onslaught of colds and flu, the National Prescribing Service (NPS) has launched its 3rd annual consumer health campaign, 'Common colds need common sense'.
The campaign aims to help stop the spread of winter ills and reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics, which are not effective against viruses and can lead to the emergence of resistant bacteria that do not respond to treatment.
The NPS is a non-profit, independent organisation working to improve the health of Australians through appropriate prescribing and use of medicines.
Dr Stephen Phillips, NPS Chairman commented: ‘The NPS is trying to make people aware that we are all susceptible to viral infections and can help reduce the risk of spreading colds and flu by taking some simple precautions such as regular handwashing and avoiding touching our nose and eyes.
‘We especially want people to stop asking for antibiotics to treat colds and flu because antibiotics don’t work against these viral infections and their side effects can make you sicker,’ he said.
Antibiotics fight bacterial infections and have no effect on viruses, which are the cause of common colds, most coughs and sore throats, and the flu. Antibiotics are useful for only a small percentage of respiratory illnesses, so it is important to trust your doctor about which respiratory illnesses may need antibiotics.
Each year influenza kills almost 3000 Australians, while the inappropriate use of antibiotics has been linked to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which kill up to 7,000 Australians each year.
Recent research has revealed that not only are antibiotics unlikely to help people with a cold or influenza get better faster, they can cause unwanted side effects and make people 7 times more likely to be infected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The NPS wants people to adopt a commonsense attitude to treating the common cold and flu by stopping the spread, treating the symptoms, taking it easy and drinking plenty of fluids.
Last Reviewed: 02 June 2003