Half of the Romanians turn to antibiotics for common colds or sore throats

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A new global study released during World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW, November 18-24) shows high reliance on antibiotics to treat respiratory conditions such as sore throats. Antibiotics are ineffective for 9 out of 10 sore throats and most common colds. However, approximately 50% of Romanians aged 25-34 believe that antibiotics are effective for colds and sore throats.

In 2019, there were almost 5 million deaths globally that were associated with antibiotic resistance (of which 1.3 million deaths were directly attributable to it). Incorrect use of antibiotics fuels antimicrobial resistance, which is the third leading cause of death worldwide. The Sore Throat & Antibiotic Resistance (STAR) study, initiated by the Global Respiratory Partnership (GRIP) with support from Reckitt, carried out in May 2022 and published this week, reveals the extent of antibiotic misuse for a sore throat.

The study found that more than half of adults surveyed had taken antibiotics for a respiratory condition such as a sore throat in the past six months, despite antibiotics being ineffective for 9 out of 10 sore throats. The study, carried out on 12,000 people from around the world, shows that in the last 6 months the most common symptoms faced by respondents were sore throat, sneezing, stuffy nose and runny nose. Many Romanians still use antibiotics for simple colds or sore throats and do not trust that they can get rid of cold or flu symptoms without antibiotics.

“The cold season is in full swing and we see an explosion of cases of viruses in both adults and children. In Romania, we still often face patients who come to surgeries or pharmacies to ask for antibiotics to treat simple colds or sore throats. It is important to increase the level of education, to have weapons to treat more serious infections that really need antimicrobials”, said Dr. Dina Mergeani, President of the National Society of Family Medicine.

“Infections of the upper airways (nose, sinuses, pharynx, larynx, ear) are responsible for a large part of the unjustified consumption of antibiotics. Most patients do not need antibiotics but only symptomatic medication (antithermic, anti-inflammatory, nasal decongestants, vitamin C, etc.) to recover. Around 90% of sore throats have a viral etiology and do not require antibiotics. The high rate of prescription of antibiotics for respiratory viruses significantly contributes to the increase in bacterial resistance”, said Prof. Dr. Codruț Sarafoleanu, Secretary General of the Romanian Society of Rhinology.

“It is important for Romanians to understand how we can properly treat a common cold or a sore throat, mostly resorting to symptomatic treatments. The campaign we are launching today aims to draw attention to antibiotic consumption habits and to educate about the role of these and other drugs in treating upper respiratory tract infections”, said Dr. Vlad Budu, Executive President, Romanian Society of Rhinology.

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