In Australia, antibiotic use is high compared with other developed countries.
Did you know that in 2015 in Australia 30,000,000 (yes, 30 million!) antibiotic prescriptions were made - that’s more than 1 prescription for every Australian!
A five year Australian study, released in 2017, found that antibiotics were prescribed for upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) at rates four to nine times higher than those recommended by national clinical guidelines. Prescribing within the guidelines would reduce the number of antibiotics dispensed by nearly 90% for some conditions.
Antibiotics are being overprescribed and dispensed in Australia for conditions for which there is no evidence of benefit, including influenza (52.2% of patients) and acute bronchitis (92.4% of patients).
Why do we need to reduce our use of antibiotics?
The World Health Organization has stated that antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest threats to human health.
There has been a distinct increase in resistant infections such as methicillin-resistance in Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Australia since 2006.
Resistance to antimicrobials occurs when bacteria change to protect themselves from these drugs. When this happens, infections that could once be treated or prevented with antimicrobials can become life-threatening.
Antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed type of antimicrobial – so improving the way we use antibiotics helps fight antimicrobial resistance.
Over 40% of Australians had at least one antibiotic dispensed to them in 2017.
Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Australia (AURA)
Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Australia (AURA) is our national surveillance system. Data collected by AURA is being used to help doctors, health professionals, and governments take the right action to reduce antimicrobial resistance in Australia.
‘In patients aged under 65 years, the highest rate of dispensing (of antibiotics) was for children aged between two and four years’. A key finding from 2019 AURA report.
The most common reason antibiotics are prescribed for Australian children?
Acute otitis media - middle ear infection.
However, over the past 30 years, expert opinion has swung against doctors giving antibiotics for this problem.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners recommend that middle ear infection (otitis media) in non-indigenous children between the ages of two to twelve years should not be treated with antibiotics unless there are signs of widespread infection.
The good news?
There was a decline in antibiotic dispensing in 2016 and a further decline in 2017, the first downward trend since the late 1990s.
• More than 50% of people with colds and upper respiratory tract infections were prescribed antimicrobials when they are not recommended by current prescribing guidelines.
• Antibiotics are being prescribed for acute bronchitis and flu, for which antibiotics are never recommended.
• Around 50% of all antibiotic prescriptions were ordered with repeats when they may not be needed.
Antibiotics treat some bacterial infections, but for many common conditions, such as colds and flu, they are not effective at all. For your own personal health, you should only take antibiotics for infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotics will not help if you have a viral infection, and you run the risk of experiencing side effects and contributing to antimicrobial resistance.
There are three things you can pledge to do to reduce antibiotic resistance:
You can make an official NPS Medicinewise Antibiotic resistance pledge
Also, please consider the food you buy remembering that certified organic foods in Australia prohibit the use of any antibiotics (and growth hormones).
The Australian Government and industry collect data to monitor antimicrobial resistance in pigs, chicken meat, chicken eggs and salmon, having the fifth lowest level of antibiotic use in food producing animals of countries examined in a 2016 review.
Can complimentary medicine can play a role in reducing antibiotic resistance?
The results of a 2016 study published in 2016 in the British Journal of Medicine (BMJ) showed that practices which employed GPs with additional training in complementary medicine, such as homeopathy, prescribed 22% fewer antibiotics.
Homeopathic medicine and upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) in children.
Homeopathy merits consideration as an early treatment option in uncomplicated URTI of children and is increased by the problem of the overuse of antibiotics, particularly in pre-schoolers.
The Effectiveness and Safety of a Homeopathic Medicinal Product in Paediatric Upper Respiratory Tract Infections With Fever The results of this Randomized Controlled Trial point to potential benefits to decrease the public health risk of antibiotic resistance due to an antibiotic sparing effect, and that homeopathy may also be able to contribute and contain at a public health level the rising problem of antibiotic resistance.
Homeopathy is increasingly popular.
In Germany, 60% of the people have used homeopathic medicine, with the great majority (87%) of users reporting positive experiences, most frequently for colds and flu.
Homeopathy is the most commonly used complementary medicinal treatment for German children, It is estimated that 28% of infants are treated with homeopathy during their second year of life and, 16% of all homeopathic medicines used in children are for flu or rhino pharyngeal complaints.
A study from France showed that patients managed with homeopathic medicine for URTI had significantly lower consumption of antibiotics compared to conventionally managed patients, while achieving comparable clinical outcomes.
Among adult homeopathy users in the United States, respiratory and ear, nose, and throat complaints are the most commonly treated conditions.
The First Survey of Australian Homeopathy indicate that ten percent of visits to a homeopath were for general lung, ear, nose and throat complaints.
Homeopathic medicine, Acute otitis media - middle ear infection and Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI) in children.
The public health and individual risks of inappropriate antibiotic prescribing and conventional over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in the treatment of children with acute otitis media (AOM) and upper respiratory infections (URTIs) are significant.
Homeopathic medications as clinical alternatives for Symptomatic Care of Acute Otitis Media and Upper Respiratory Infections in children.
This paper shows that at a practical level, homeopathy offers several advantages over conventional OTC drugs for children:
1. Fewer and less serious side effects.
2. Earlier onset symptom improvements.
3. Lower costs, with reduced use of conventional drugs.
The theme of significantly faster onset of improvement seen in children and adults with homeopathy than with conventional treatment has been shown across studies in multiple countries, in, for example, a 2007 study of 1577 children with acute respiratory and ear complaints.
Most real-world outcome studies in adults and children (but not all) show that homeopathy substantially lowers costs and reduces use of conventional medications in primary care populations.
Based on the evidence, homeopathic medicines offer one viable strategy for treating Acute Otitis Media and Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in children to reduce inappropriate use of antibiotics and the associated worldwide problem of drug resistant organisms – antimicrobial resistance.
Homeopaths acknowledge that the body of evidence for homeopathic medicine is small but growing and much more research needs to happen.
Over 200,000,000 people use homeopathic medicine on a regular basis, worldwide.
Homeopathic medicine is not a one size fits all over the counter prescription. It needs to be skillfully prescribed for the symptoms the person is suffering not for the name of the disease or condition.
Homeopathic medicine recognises mental, emotional and physical symptoms, and has a systematic way of utilizing a symptom via a rubric. A rubric is a clinically verified symptom found in the repertory -an index of homeopathic medicines by symptom.
Repertorization, the process of translating symptoms into clinically usable data, is a scientific, systematized standard unique to homeopathic medicine. For example, a dry cough at night which improves after drinking, with a hoarse, cracked voice might look like this:
Homeopathic medicines are prescribed in accordance with clinically verified symptoms.
Always seek medical advice first and in emergencies.
Working with a registered homeopath is recommended – Australia’s best homeopaths here
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Skilled in unravelling complex patterns of ill health, Sarah Penrose is a qualified, registered and endorsed natural health professional specializing in homeopathic medicine.