Thursday, November 5, 2015

I Can’t Afford To Be Sick!

“I can’t afford to be sick right now” is a common complaint at Student Health.  Test week, presentations, finals, and interviews are all highly inconvenient times to be sick.  You want to feel better, and we want you to feel better, but antibiotics are not always the answer. 

Pathogenic microorganisms, or microbes that cause infection and disease are growing stronger and more resistant to treatment for a number of reasons.  Microbes are little critters that multiply rapidly, so they are able to adapt quickly to new environmental conditions.  If a gene mutation occurs which allows a certain organism to survive, it will soon become dominant.   Scientists believe that microbes can transfer genes to one another, allowing them to work as a team against us.  So microorganisms have some advantages, but as humans, we are doing quite a bit to aid the enemy.
Inappropriate use of antibiotics, misdiagnosis, agricultural use and inadequate infection control are all human behaviors that encourage microbes to mutate and become resistant to medication.  Much of this is out of your personal control, but there are a few important things you can do:

·         Always finish your prescription, unless otherwise advised by your healthcare provider.  If you stop taking your medication as soon as you feel better, the stronger microbes may still be alive and kicking, ready to launch a counter-attack that may not be responsive to the same medication.

·         If you finish your prescription, you won’t be tempted to use leftover medication the next time you’re sick which is another common mistake.  You also won’t be tempted to share your leftover medication with a friend.

·         Don't insist on an antibiotic if your healthcare provider tells you that your illness is caused by a virus.  An antibiotic will not make you feel any better, and you are setting yourself up for side effects and complications down the road.

·         If an antibiotic is prescribed, ask your provider if tests will be done to ensure you are getting the right one.

·         Do your part to prevent infections with good hygiene and recommended vaccinations.

Clinical trials are underway to help us combat microbial resistance.  Of course, developing new antimicrobial therapies is an important and ongoing focus.  Research also helps us find the best ways to use our existing drugs.  Researchers are also testing products that help prevent infections in the first place. 

This is not a war we can afford to lose.  Please do your part to keep resistance from becoming a bigger problem and spread the word so others can join in the effort. 

My name is Jennifer Blanck, RN, and I am always happy to hear from students and help in any way I can. Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions regarding your requirements. My direct line is 913-588-2018.