Published: 23 November 2023
A woman who has relied on antibiotics since birth has joined calls for people to act to help combat the overuse of these vital medicines.
Cerys Upstone, 19, is a second-year journalism and politics student at Cardiff University and was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) at four weeks old. Cystic fibrosis is an inherited condition that causes sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive system. This causes lung infections and problems digesting food.
Like most CF patients, Cerys has needed to take antibiotics, sometimes routinely, for her entire life to control these infections and stop them causing further damage. However, bacteria are gradually becoming resistant to these antibiotics meaning they are less effective which could have very serious implications for people like Cerys.
“I need to take antibiotics quite a lot and antimicrobial resistance concerns me,” Cerys said. “I used to be on long term antibiotics as I kept getting infections. I took these for quite a few years. I am very reliant on antibiotics, I have been my whole life, and it’s always something I query with doctors.”
As a child, Cerys said she would develop a serious infection roughly every other year, which would require hospitalisation and administration of intravenous antibiotics. In 2021, she began receiving a triple-combination therapy which slowed down the decrease in her lung function. While she still suffers from frequent chest infections, Cerys has not had to have a course of IV antibiotics since beginning this therapy.
This World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week, Public Health Wales is calling on medical practitioners and the general public to only use antibiotics when necessary to manage this silent pandemic that could affect us all if these medicines cease to be effective.
The danger of using antibiotics when they are not needed is that it can lead to antimicrobial resistance when bacteria are no longer killed by the antibiotic. No-one should save antibiotics for later or share them with family, friends or pets. If you have unused antibiotics you should return them to your local pharmacy. Throwing them in the bin or flushing them down the toilet leads to the contamination of rivers threatening human and animal health.
Dr Eleri Davies, Deputy Medical Director and Head of the Healthcare Associated Infection and Antimicrobial Resistance Programme at Public Health Wales said:
“Antibiotics are a precious, lifesaving resource and we need to use them responsibly. If we don’t, the danger is that our antibiotic medicines will become ineffective, meaning we won’t be able to treat common infections.”
Buildings are lighting up blue to mark World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week.
Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats we face.
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