Antibiotic Overdose

Best Practice is the monthly journal which helps General Practitioners to stay up to date with current research and guidelines. Recently the whole journal is devoted to antibiotic prescribing and clarifying the antimicrobial stewardship of the GP. Take a more detailed look on

This has become a major issue because New Zealand consumption of antibiotics is on of the highest among developed countries. Most antibiotics are taken in the community with 50-80% being prescribed for self-limiting respiratory tract infections.

In 2008 NICE recommended avoiding antibiotic prescribing in the majority of acute otitis media, common colds, acute sinusitis and acute cough/bronchitis, as there was no significant benefit to the patient with these self-limiting respiratory tract infections.

Not only do prescribing budgets rocket, but more importantly community resistance increases, raising the concern for antibiotic resistant infections which we are already seeing. For the patient, the worry is that we are impairing our very own immune system with unnecessary antibiotics, given that 80% of our immune system is in the gut. Our knowledge of the microbiome, or gut flora, is evolving steadily, and we tinker with this important system at our peril.

Most self-limiting viral illnesses can be managed well with rest, fluids and over the counter medicines , and of course time. Refusing to take time out and rest certainly seems to prolong an illness, and I always emphasis to my patients the importance of 'giving into it' as my mum used to say. Very wise advice.

So the bottom line is only seek antibiotics if you absolutely think you need them, and be willing to be counselled by your doctor if he or she thinks not. Your body and your community will thank you.