Sick? Go easy on those pills

Sick? Don't just pop a pill, especially an antibiotic, without first consulting a physician.

The Department of Health (DOH) has reminded the public not to take antibiotics indiscriminately as this could lead to antimicrobial resistance (AMR), in which infections from resistant bacteria, including lethal ones, could be difficult or impossible to treat.

"The wrong use of medicines, such as antibiotics not prescribed by a doctor, can lead to adverse health reactions and even death," warned DOH spokesman Lyndon Lee Suy in a video posted on the department's Facebook page.

Lee Suy explained that self-medication could render antibiotics powerless over potent microbes, aggravating the illness. He advised the public to consult a physician when they feel ill and before taking any medication.

"The usual cause of a simple cough or cold is a virus and this could resolve itself. Antibiotics cannot treat viral infections," Lee Suy said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said AMR was increasingly becoming a serious threat to global public health and required action from governments and society.

It threatens the prevention and treatment of a wide range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi, the WHO said.

In 2012, the international agency reported a gradual rise in resistance to HIV drugs. It said the continued rise in resistance to first-line treatment drugs might require patients to need more expensive drugs later.

The WHO also monitored 480,000 new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in 2013, which required longer and more effective treatment courses than those for nonresistant TB.

"So let us not use antibiotics carelessly. Consult your doctor first," Lee Suy said.