Imperial College London

Six things doctors would like you to know about antibiotics


Every day healthcare workers around the world are waging war, in what is becoming the fight of our lives.

They are battling antibiotic resistance. 

Doctors are seeing more and more patients with infections that can’t be treated - even with drugs of last resort - as bacteria learn to overcome antibiotics.

Ahead of the World Health Organisation’s World Antibiotic Awareness Week, researchers and doctors from Imperial College London reveal six things they’d like patients to know about antibiotics, so we can win the fight.

1. Antibiotics are a precious resource

And their effectiveness is reducing every day. Without them, common procedures like cancer treatment, c-sections and hip-replacements would not be possible. 

2. Antibiotic resistance won’t be solved with new medicines

Bacteria will eventually become resistant to every antibiotic we create.

And the time from a new drug being discovered to bacteria developing resistance against it is becoming shorter and shorter.

The only way to preserve antibiotics is to use them only when needed. 

3. Never share antibiotics or save them for later

Using antibiotics responsibly will help ensure that when you are prescribed an antibiotic, it is still effective enough to kill bacteria and make you better.

Always follow your doctor’s advice about antibiotics.

4. Don’t buy them abroad to stockpile at home

Counterfeit antibiotics are a huge global problem, and often won’t effectively kill bacteria.

5. Wash. Your. Hands!

One of the greatest weapons against bacterial infection is good hygiene.

Washing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds before eating or preparing food, when you first come home, and after using the toilet, will help protect you against bugs.

6. YOU can help fight antibiotic resistance

Like climate change, antibiotic resistance is a complex, worldwide problem.

Estimates suggest it will kill an extra 10 million people a year by 2050.

But we can each play a part in tackling this problem, and ensuring antibiotic resistance doesn’t send medicine back to the dark ages.

The NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance at Imperial College London is a leading the way in the global fight against antibiotic resistance, and developing strategies that will safeguard our future health.


Kate Wighton

Kate Wighton
Communications and Public Affairs

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