Tackling Bacterial Infection

Experts say signs and treatment of bacterial infection often misunderstood

New treatment options available

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TORONTO, Feb. 16 /CNW/ - According to the Canadian Foundation for Infectious Diseases, antibiotics are the second most frequently prescribed class of drugs - second only to pain relievers. Yet most people don't know the difference between a true bacterial infection, like chronic bronchitis that can be treated with antibiotics — and viruses like the common cold, which cannot.

"Even though there is a lot of awareness of cold season ailments, people still don't understand when an antibiotic can actually help and why it's so important to follow the treatment instructions to the letter," explains Dr. Alan Kaplan, M.D. CCFP(EM) FCFP, a family physician practicing in Richmond Hill, Ontario, and Chairperson of the Family Physician Airways Group of Canada.

Dr. Kaplan says that infections are caused by bacteria like streptococcus that can lead to strep throat.  Other common bacterial infections include acute bacterial sinusitis and pneumonia. 

Bacteria thrive in many different types of environments and can live outside the human body for instance on door knobs, keyboards, surfaces and much more.  Some varieties live in extremes of cold or heat, while others can make their home in the human body, in places like your intestine, where they help digest food.  Most bacteria cause no harm to people - however certain strains can lead to infections such as respiratory and urinary tract infections.

Viruses are smaller than bacteria and they require a living host - people, plants or animals - to multiply.  They cannot survive in the "outside world" like bacteria can.  Viruses are the cause of illnesses such as chicken pox and the common cold.

"A lot of people think that if they have a cold, they need to take antibiotics and that is not the case," explains Dr. Kaplan.  "Antibiotics are not effective against viruses - but they can kill bacterial infections. There are a range of new treatments available that are very effective."

Tackling Bacterial Infection:
If you have persistent fever, cough, sore throat or sinus pain and/or discharge for more than 4 days, Dr. Kaplan advocates making an appointment with your doctor to determine if your illness is bacterial or a virus. 

"A lot of the symptoms are similar and it takes a qualified health care practitioner to determine if antibiotics will help tackle your illness," says Dr. Kaplan. 

"If you are prescribed antibiotics, you will either be given a traditional course of therapy that may require several days of treatment - or, if you are suffering from Acute Bacterial Sinusitis, Chronic Bronchitis or certain forms of pneumonia, your physician may prescribe a new antibiotic available in a single dose," says Dr. Kaplan.

Whichever form of treatment, it is critical that you follow the instructions for treatment to the letter, advises Dr. Kaplan, adding that improper use of antibiotics is a contributing factor to antibiotic resistance, a situation where bacteria adapt and "avoid" medications that, if used properly, have a high success rate for killing bacteria.

"Often people are busy at work, or as they feel better, they forget to take their antibiotics as prescribed," explains Dr. Kaplan, adding that azithromycin, a commonly prescribed antibiotic, is now available in a new liquid format that requires only a single dose.

In addition to antibiotics, Dr. Kaplan says that when your body is fighting infection, it's important to get lots of sleep, drink plenty of fluids and rest as much as possible.  He also advocates trying to maintain good nutrition. "If you don't feel like eating, go for chicken soup and antioxidant rich fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies, which your body needs for cell repair and healing."

"Your body needs to use all its energy to fight the infection," explains Dr. Kaplan.  "Used appropriately, in most cases antibiotics can help because they can kill bacterial strains that cause infection, but you have a part to play as well in helping your body successfully tackle bacterial infections."

About Pfizer in Canada
Pfizer Canada Inc. is the Canadian operation of Pfizer, the world's leading biopharmaceutical company. The company is one of the largest contributors to health research in Canada. Our diversified health care portfolio includes human and animal biologic and small molecule medicines and vaccines, as well as nutritional products and many of the world's best-known consumer products.

Every day, Pfizer Canada employees work to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. We apply science to our global resources to improve the health and wellbeing of Canadians at every stage of life. 

Our commitment is reflected in everything Pfizer does, from our disease awareness initiatives, to our community partnerships and our belief, that to be truly healthy, it takes more than medication. To learn more about Pfizer's More than Medication philosophy, visit morethanmedication.ca. To learn more about Pfizer Canada, visit Pfizer.ca

SOURCE PFIZER CANADA INC.

For further information:

David Weinstein, Rebecca Crittenden or Catherine Héroux
Strategic Objectives
Toll free: 1-866-366-7733  Tel.:  416-366-7735  Fax: 416-366-2295
Emaildavidw@strategicobjectives.comorrcrittenden@strategicobjectives.com

Maureen McConnell
Pfizer Canada
Tel.:  1-866-9PFIZER
Email: maureen.mcconnell@pfizer.com

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