Antibiotics – how effective are they?

January is a month when flu, colds and infections are at their peak as our resistance to infection is low after a hectic Christmas period of parties and over-indulgence. Many of us head to the GP and expecting to come away with a prescription for antibiotics but how effective are they?  Should we be avoiding  or embracing treatment with antibiotics?

In June 2013, the G8 science ministers met in London to discuss our increasing resistance to the benefits of antibiotics.  This Antibiotic resistance has been long-debated and views are certainly mixed. The Government’s Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies,  has voiced herparticular concerns  and in 2013 went so far as to highlight it as a “serious threat to mankind”.

Professor Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Welcome Trust and clinical scientist of infectious diseases, criticises the lack of research as just 4 pharmaceutical companies are currently carrying out research into this field.  So how do we make an informed choice?

Unfortunately there is no definitive answer so for the time being we will just have to rely on the advice from our GP’s on whether antibiotics are right for each individual case.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) will meet in Geneva in May 2014 and antibiotic resistance is high on their agenda for discussion and it will be interesting to follow the outcome of those talks to see if there is a definitive answer from the world’s medical specialists.