LATVIA – HEALTH
Consumption of antibiotics in Latvia increased last year. According to the State Agency of Medicines, more than 2.2 million packs of antibiotics were sold from January to November, and more than 1.5 million in 2021.
Doctors often prescribe them even for the common cold or runny nose, as if to guarantee that the patient will not fall ill with something more serious. But this tactic is not only wrong, it is dangerous.
The usual diseases are coming back
Sergey Akulich, deputy director of the State Agency of Medicines, explains why there has been such a jump in consumption: “The increase is due to the fact that in the previous two seasons, colds in the background of covid may not have been as prominent. Various restrictive measures were applied – physical distancing, wearing masks, particularly careful hand washing.”
Consequently, there was not as much demand for medication, which is usually required during the cold season. “It should also be taken into account that last season the flu did not start in autumn or winter, the epidemiological threshold in Latvia was actually reached only in March. However, this season, already in December, we have seen quite large, significant numbers,” said Akulich.
By significant figures, Akulich meant that along with covid, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus and many other viruses causing upper respiratory tract diseases are also actively spreading this season.
Doesn't help with viruses at all
In case of viral diseases antibiotics are not effective, but in practice they are prescribed for preventive purposes, ensuring that the patient does not fall ill with anything more serious than a runny nose or cough.
Kintija Barlotti, head of Jelgava polyclinic, said: “Queues are huge, there are not enough doctors, family doctors are overworked. A lot of appointments are made right over the phone. Do you have these symptoms? Well, let’s write them down. It’s much easier to prescribe a medicine or antibiotic and know that there really won’t be a problem, than not prescribe it and deal with uninformed patients.”
Uga Dumpis, infectious disease specialist at Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital, says: “Antibiotics as first-line treatment for respiratory viral diseases is the wrong tactic; the use of these powerful drugs should be targeted and appropriate to the patient’s condition!”
It should be assessed when to use
Inese Sviestinja, clinical pharmacist at the Children’s Clinical University Hospital, also believes that antibiotics should not be prescribed as the first treatment, it is advisable to wait and, if necessary, take tests to choose the most suitable medicine afterwards.
No specialist is calling for a complete rejection of antibiotics, as they can save patients from serious illness or even death, but they should not be used when you can do without them.
Medical experts have long warned that overuse of antibiotics contributes to the development of bacterial resistance – drug resistance. As a result, more and more powerful antibiotics are needed, which is also bad for your health.