Survey finds Millenials confused about antibiotics

MEDICINE ALERT: Widespread over-use of antibiotics among the young worries health professionals.
MEDICINE ALERT: Widespread over-use of antibiotics among the young worries health professionals. Derek Barry

MANY young Australians are asking for antibiotics when they don't need them.

In new research released for World Antibiotic Week by independent not-for-profit NPS MedicineWise, a survey of 2509 people revealed 35% of 16- to 24-year-olds ask health professionals for antibiotics when they have colds or flu.

The results indicate younger Australians may be unaware antibiotics are ineffective for these common viral infections.

Respondents over the age of 75 are the least likely to ask for antibiotics with just 13% saying they'd ask for these medicines to treat a cold or flu.

NPS MedicineWise Medical Adviser, Dr Andrew Boyden, said the survey found requests for antibiotics to combat a cold or flu generally decrease with age.

"Many young people appear to lack knowledge about antibiotics and their purpose," he said.

"Unless excessive use of antibiotics can be dramatically curbed, unfortunately it will be the younger generations who will be more exposed to antibiotic resistance as time goes on.

"We need to raise awareness, particularly in younger people, that antibiotics are a precious resource which are ineffective for the treatment of viruses and should be reserved for the treatment of bacterial infections."

Dr Boyden said the World Health Organisation has warned antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to human health today and is making it increasingly difficult to treat bacterial infections.

Topics:  dr andrew boyden nps medicinewise survey world health organisation

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