Misconceptions about antibiotics revealed in new survey

28th Nov 2014


Four in ten people take antibiotics for a cough or runny nose despite both conditions normally clearing up without treatment, according to new research out today by Public Health England (PHE) for European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD).

The research also found 90% of people are not aware bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics spreads easily from person to person, and more than one in seven don’t realise that healthy people can harbour these bacteria.

People surveyed also mistakenly believed antibiotics can be used for fungal infections and allergic reactions, work as anti-inflammatory medication and can weaken the immune system. This confusion is contributing to inappropriate use of antibiotics, a factor in the growing threat of treatment-resistant bacteria.
Dr Cliodna McNulty, head of PHE’s primary care unit, said: “The misconception that antibiotics are a cure-all for all ills is proving to be a very difficult myth to shift. Our survey results highlight the need for much greater awareness-raising as to what antibiotics are, and what conditions they can be used for”.

Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally C Davies said: “We need to preserve the antibiotics we have, otherwise we could see the end of modern medicine as we know it. This is about appropriate prescribing by GPs and patients being aware when antibiotics are really needed.”

Abdul Adil. Rachel Kayani is away this month

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