Antibiotic Resistance, Overuse & Misuse in Adults Over 65

Antibiotic resistance, overuse and misuse are causing big problems

Antibiotics are the most common treatment for bacterial infections. They don’t work for viral infections like colds or flu. Antibiotic resistant bacteria develop if you take antibiotics when you don’t need them. When these bacteria spread, it undermines modern medicine. 

Why should adults over 65 be concerned about antibiotic resistance?

Adults over 65 are more likely to have an infection. They may have weakened immune systems or live in a care facility in close contact with others who may be ill. 

As well, adults over 65 may visit healthcare settings like hospitals more often. Infections can spread easily in these settings. Antibiotics may also interact with medications adults over 65 are already taking. 

What you can do to prevent antibiotic resistance

  1.  If you are being prescribed antibiotics, ask your doctor or dentist about the best option for you. 
  2.  If prescribed antibiotics, discuss with your doctor side effects and interactions with other medications. 
  3.  Always follow your doctor or pharmacist’s directions on how to take antibiotics.

Reduce the spread of infections to help yourself and others. 

Reducing and preventing spread of infections in the first place decrease the need for antibiotics, and will help us all to stay healthier. Download our brochure for more practical tips!

Resources

Antibiotics and Adults Over 65 – Brochure

Download the brochure to learn more about how adults over 65 can be more Antibiotic Wise.

Antibiotics and Adults Over 65 – Poster

Download and use the poster to raise awareness about issues related to antibiotics in adults over 65.

Penicillin Allergy – Things You Need to Know

Penicillin was one of the first antibiotics

Penicillin is a great way to treat common bacterial infections, such as bronchitis and laryngitis. It is inexpensive and can treat skin, ear, sinus and upper respiratory tract infections.

Penicillin is one of the safer antibiotics

Compared to other antibiotics, penicillin can be more effective, less likely to result in superbug bacteria (such as MRSA and VRE). It also has a lower risk of causing C. difficile infection, a severe and hard to treat diarrhea. 

Do you have a penicillin allergy?

Some people have a reaction when they take penicillin in the form of hives, itchiness, rashes or swelling. This does not necessarily indicate an allergy. It is common for people to be fine with penicillin the next time they need it. 

Should you take penicillin? 

Always share any past penicillin reactions with your doctor. They will let you know if you should try penicillin again or try another antibiotic. 

Resources

Allergic to Penicillin? Brochure

Download the brochure to learn about penicillin allergy, and how to be Antibiotic Wise.

Allergic to Penicillin? Poster

Download and use the poster to raise awareness about penicillin allergy.

Penicillin Allergy Fact Sheet

Did you know that half of all penicillin allergies go away within 5 years? Learn more about why penicillin may still be the right choice even if you have been told you have an allergy.

BC Women’s Penicillin Allergy Challenge Test

Fact sheet for a new initiative from the BC Women’s Hospital testing penicillin allergies of pregnant women.

Using Antibacterial Products at Home

Using antibacterial products in your home washes away the good bacteria

Millions of good bacteria live on our bodies to protect against infections caused by bad bacteria. Good bacteria also keep harmful bacteria from multiplying. Antibacterial cleaners, makeup and body products wash away the good and the bad. Antibacterial use makes  bacteria  more resistant to antibiotics.

Using antibacterial products in your home impacts hospital disinfectants

Researchers have found little difference between using plain soap or antibacterial soap in a home or community setting and there is no added benefit of using antimicrobial soap in preventing infections. Similarly, antibacterial ingredients added to makeup, hygiene products, and surfaces of children’s toys have no added benefit to protect against the common cold or the flu. Moreover, some antimicrobial chemicals (such as Triclosan) are harmful to plants and animals when the chemicals are washed down the drain. Triclosan also kills good bacteria and can cause antibiotic resistance over time.

What household products may be labelled as antibacterial, antimicrobial or antiseptic?

What are alternatives to antibacterial products?

Plain soap or detergent and water (any temperature) are the only tools you need to get things clean. Most households don’t need antibacterial cleaning products. 

There’s little difference between plain soap versus antibacterial soap when you’re at home. Antibacterial ingredients don’t protect you better from cold or flu.  Handwashing with plain soap is extremely effective at reducing the spread of germs.  

Resources

Safe Food Handling

BC Centre for Disease Control’s tips and guidelines on safe food handling to reduce risk of contamination and food poisoning.

Green Cleaning Product Recipes

The Queen of Green has developed 9 easy cleaning recipes for everyday cleaning.

Alternative Non-Toxic Disinfectants

The David Suzuki Foundation have provided alternative non-toxic disinfecting solutions for at-home use.

Antibiotics for Cold, Flu and COVID-19

Antibiotics for cold, flu and COVID-19 do not work

Antibiotics treat bacterial infections. Colds, COVID-19 and the flu are viral infections, so antibiotics won’t help. Using antibiotics when you have these illnesses can lead to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

There are a few ways to help prevent colds, flu and COVID-19

How can I treat colds and the flu? 

The best way to recover from a cold or flu is to drink plenty of fluids, get rest, and give your body time to do its job.  

Do I have COVID-19?

If you experience any of these symptoms, stay home and contact your healthcare provider. You may just have a cold or the flu but stay home to keep others safe. Here is a link to the BC COVID-19 Self-assessment Tool

Key symptoms of COVID-19 include:

Other symptoms may include:

Go to an urgent care clinic or emergency department if you:

Resources

Antibiotics, Cold and Flu Video

Antibiotics treat bacterial infections and can be life-saving. But, antibiotics won’t kill viruses like cold and flu.

Say Naaah Poster

A poster suitable for doctor’s offices, community centres and other public locations. Open up and think twice about antibiotics.

Flu Clinic Finder

Locate a flu clinic near you anywhere in BC with this interactive map.

Choosing Wisely – Cold and Flu

Antibiotics don’t help most respiratory infections, and they can even be harmful. See ways you can help treat symptoms from colds and flu without unnecessary antibiotics.

Guide to Wise Use of Antibiotics

Booklet with information on antibiotics, antibiotic resistance, and managing common illnesses.

How to Wash Your Hands Poster

Poster with the six steps for proper hand washing.

Antibiotics and Dental Care – Things You Need to Know

You don’t always need antibiotics at the dentist

Antibiotics are appropriate for some dental procedures. They are used to prevent or fight infections. Many toothaches and oral infections do not need antibiotics. Discuss options with your dentist. Always inform your dentist about any medical conditions or health changes.

What are antibiotics for dental care?

Antibiotics are medicines for treating bacterial infections. They play a vital part in modern medicine and dentistry. When taken incorrectly or overused, bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics. This means antibiotics do not work. This presents a global issue. When antibiotics for serious bacterial infections stop working, lives are lost.   

Antibiotics and Dental Care – How Can I Help? 

Maintaining a healthy dental routine helps prevent oral infections that require antibiotics. Eat well, brush, floss and visit your dentist regularly. These are all important steps in preventing dental disease.

Resources

Antibiotic Resistance Video

Sometimes you need antibiotics, but what if you don’t? When you use antibiotics too often or incorrectly, bacteria can develop resistance.

Preventing Infection Video

Antibiotics fight and prevent infection. They revolutionized modern dentistry. But there are other effective ways to prevent infection.

Antibiotics and Dental Care Fact Sheet

Learn more about the use of antibiotics in dental practice, and why they may not be needed for every condition.

Say Naah Poster

A poster suitable for dental offices, community centres and other public locations. Open up and think twice about antibiotics.

Your Dental Health Website

Your Dental Health is a public education program of the BC Dental Association (BCDA) providing general dental information.

Penicillin Allergy Fact Sheet

Did you know that half of all penicillin allergies go away within 5 years? Learn more about why penicillin may still be the right choice even if you have been told you have an allergy.

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