Many Europeans still Using Antibiotics to Treat Viruses, Colds and Flu

Despite the rising campaigns against the use of antibiotics to kill viruses that cause a cold, flu and other related diseases, many people in Europe are still using antibiotics, latest report suggests.

Antibiotics were the main form of treating ailments such as colds and flu which are caused by a virus. In fact, these treatments were prescribed by most physicians to deal with both mild and chronic cases, while some patients bought the drugs over the counter without a prescription.

However, it was later discovered that antibiotics are ineffective against flu, colds, fevers and some other diseases. Studies showed that the viral attacks subsided not because the drugs were working but through a natural process. This led to the medical fraternity discouraging the use of antibiotics as it only increased side effects and contributed to the rise of superbugs.

The European Commission recently released a report that shows that many people in Europe are still using antibiotics despite the mass education and campaigns against the use of this treatment. According to the report, as many as one-third of the population has purchased antibiotics in the last year.Antibiotic Awareness Though this represents a 6% drop in people still using this form of treatment, the number of users is still high.

The European Centre for Diseases Prevention and Control (ECDC) says there has been a gradual decline in the usage of antibiotics for colds, fevers and flu, and this is achieved through educating the public and holding campaigns such as the European Antibiotic Awareness Day which is held once every year.

Surveys have been carried out asking people whether antibiotics destroy viruses that cause cold, fever and flu. In 2009, 36% of the respondents said NO. The number rose to 40% in 2013 while in 2016, 43% of the sampled population gave the right answer. This showed that people are now accepting and coming to terms with the reality which is antibiotics are not effective against viruses.

During the launch of the report, the EC says that 93% of the users got the drugs from a healthcare provider while 7% got it from other sources without a doctor’s prescription. This shows that caregivers have been contributing to the slow decline of using antibiotics which in turn undermines the efforts made by campaigns for raising awareness.

Misuse of the medication has led to antimicrobial resistance which makes more and more antibiotics ineffective in treating bacteria that have mutated. The recommendation for healthcare professionals and doctors is to play a leading role and work together with the ECDC in discouraging from the use of antibiotics in treating viruses, colds and flu.