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Canadians are taking a lot of antibiotics but should they be?

(NC) In 2013, nearly 23 million antibiotic prescriptions were dispensed by Canadian pharmacies and more than $600 million dollars was spent on antibiotics in Canadian hospitals and pharmacies. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, approximately 46 per cent of all antibiotic prescriptions by Canadian doctors in 2013 were for respiratory conditions, 14 per cent were for infections of the urinary tract and 10 per cent were for ear infections and other related conditions. PHAC says resistance to these antibiotics has become an important public health concern.

Some antibiotic resistance develops naturally, however experts around the world agree that a major contributor to increasing antibiotic resistance in humans is the misuse and overuse of antibiotics to prevent and treat infections among humans, animals and plants. When antibiotics are misused or used when they are not needed, they only kill the weak bacteria, leaving stronger more resilient bacteria to survive, adapt and spread. There are a number of ways you can be exposed to resistant bacteria, or infections.

The Public Health Agency of Canada wants to remind Canadians of a few things to consider the next time they seek or are prescribed an antibiotic:

• Antibiotics are only effective for treating bacterial infections, not viral infections such as the cold or the flu.

• When people take antibiotics when they don't need to take them, they could be reducing the effectiveness of that antibiotic for others in the future.

• If you are prescribed an antibiotic, take the full course of medication as prescribed by your health-care professional.

• If you experience a bad reaction or side effects, talk to a health-care professional about alternate treatment options and return any unused medication to the pharmacy.

• Never share your antibiotics with anyone and do not take antibiotics that were prescribed for someone else.

• Talk to your health-care professional about whether antibiotics are the right treatment option for you or your child or if you have questions about what antibiotic resistance could mean for you or your family.

There is more information about antibiotic resistance and how to lower your risk at

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