Antimicrobial resistance – resources for the public

Antimicrobial resistance is when some medicines, including antibiotics, stop working as well as they used to. It is a growing problem that means that common infections are becoming harder to treat and ‘superbugs’ are developing

What is antimicrobial resistance? 

Antimicrobial resistance is when a medicine designed to fight an infection does not work anymore. These type of medicines are called antimicrobial medicines and include antibiotics, that fight bacteria, and anti-fungal medicines, that fight fungal infections.  

Antimicrobial resistance is made worse by overusing these types of medicines or by not using them correctly. Common infections are becoming more difficult to treat and so called ‘superbugs’ are developing. This is a problem because many antibiotics do not work to treat ‘superbugs’. 

What can I do to help prevent antimicrobial resistance? 

We all have an important role to play in helping to prevent antimicrobial resistance by educating ourselves on how to treat common illnesses, using antibiotics in the right way and never taking antibiotics when we do not need them. It is important that antibiotics are only used when they are needed to fight serious infections. 

How can my pharmacist help with preventing antimicrobial resistance? 

Pharmacists are medicines experts. Your pharmacist can give you information about antibiotics including: 

  • How to take your antibiotic and for how long. 
  • The kinds of illnesses that can’t be treated by taking an antibiotic.  
  • Oher ways to manage your symptoms if an antibiotic is not suitable such as over the counter medicines in the pharmacy.  
  • Advice on vaccines and how they can prevent infections. Vaccines are a very effective and safe way of preventing infections. 
  • Many pharmacies also run vaccination services to offer protection against infections such as flu and COVID-19.  

Where can I find out more about antimicrobial resistance? 

If you would like to learn more about how to prevent antimicrobial resistance, you may find the following resources helpful: 

Keep antibiotics working for the future (HSE 2020)