November 13, 2012
Updated Nov 13, 2012 at 1:39 PM CST
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness, according to a new study.
Research from the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy found that since 1999, the percentage of antibiotics prescribed nationwide has dropped by 17 percent, yet there are notable national and regional trends in the overuse of antibiotics.
Because of overuse, says researchers, common infections -- like Urinary Tract Infections-- are becoming more difficult to treat with currently available antibiotics. They say unnecessary use makes antibiotics less effective in fighting off infections.
In 2010, the five states with the highest antibiotic use in the nation were Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The five states with the least antibiotic use were Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon and Washington. Residents of West Virginia and Kentucky, where antibiotic use rates are highest, take about twice as many antibiotics per capita as people living in Alaska and Hawaii.
Researchers suggest these simple steps to prevent overuse of antibiotics:
· Remember to get vaccinated (especially for the seasonal flu)
· Do not ask for antibiotics when your doctor doesn't prescribe them - for you or for your child
· Be sure to take antibiotics exactly as prescribed. Do not skip doses and complete the full course of treatment
· Be diligent about hand hygiene