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When to give antibiotics for common infections

For the first time NICE is giving specific advice about when and how antibiotics should be prescribed for conditions such as sore throats and colds.

NICE hopes a series of 30 guidelines, which are work in progress, will help in the battle against antimicrobial resistance by preventing unnecessary use of the drugs.

Draft guidance on sinusitis and acute sore throats has been published with final recommendations due later in 2017. Guidance is also planned for urinary tract and ear infections.

The guidelines will offer advice about whether the patient should receive antibiotics immediately, be given a delayed prescription, or educated in how to self-manage their symptoms. They will also suggest how long the course of treatment should last.

It was recently suggested in a paper in the British Medical Journal that patients did not need to finish their course of antibiotics and could safely stop when they felt better. However, chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies has said: “The advice to the public remains the same - people should always follow the instructions of their healthcare professional”.

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