dt_160919_antibiotics_pills_800x600There’s an advert currently doing the rounds on the radio – so I assume there will also be television and print versions somewhere – about the dangers of taking antibiotics for pretty much anything that they are not prescribed for. It’s a catchy little song about the perils of antibiotic overuse which basically implies that if you take them willy-nilly you will probably wind up dead of phlegm.

That’s my take home from it. It may as well go “Feeling a bit sick? Take an antibiotic? Get that thought out of your head… because if you do you’ll soon be dead.” But to a fun tune, you know, to add levity to the situation.

The thing is, and it’s something I’ve never really understood, who are the people who have all these antibiotics to hand. I’ve only ever been prescribed antibiotics and when I have had them I have been told to complete the full course. I am being a fool? Should I have been completing most of the course but siphoning off a few amoxicillin for if I feel a bit under the weather at some point?

I mean, no, I shouldn’t. That’s the whole point of this blog and the song which is what this blog is about.

What I mean is, am I weird for not building my own stockpile of antibiotics that I can call on at will?

I have, over the course of my life, come across people who say things like “Oh, yeah, I have some antibiotics left if you want some?” As though that’s a completely normal thing. Like saying they have some milk available, or have foolishly made too many cakes.

I have got to the age I am now and I have, foolishly, been doing medicine wrong. Because when I am ill enough to merit going to the doctor’s, the first thing I do when the trained medical practitioner prescribes me something with a specific set of instructions is think “Pah, you know what, I don’t think I need to do that. I will take maybe one or two days of this until I feel a little better and then keep the rest in case I bang my toe or hear any of my acquaintances cough a little.”

Why even bother going to see the doctor in the first place if you’re going to ignore their advice? Why not just leave a slice of bread out for a day or so and then lick the penicillin straight off it? You could always leave out another couple of slices and start your drug stockpile. Then when you feel a bit peaky, you could waft one of your pre-prepared soft crusts and you’d be golden.

When I was younger, adverts about not doing things were a lot more fierce. Don’t play with a kite near power lines – nightmare fuel. Don’t cross the road without looking – nightmare fuel (poor Willy Weasel). Don’t, whatever you do, try and change a lightbulb standing on a chair in slippers – nightmare fuel.

I haven’t changed a lightbulb since.

We – as a species – could destroy the effectiveness of antibiotics to fight proper diseases because we whip them out for aches, sprains and grazes. That’s a far greater threat – wide spread and long term – than any of the nightmare fuel I had to endure as a child and we put the point across with a song. A bloody song.

There’s a far more effective way, though, of stopping people popping these pills like sweets…

A film of an old man on a chair, in slippers, reaching into a cupboard for some antibiotics he “had leftover” before he slips from the chair and dies.