A lack of awareness about the usage and potential side effects of antibiotics in China is putting people's health at risk, the country's drug watchdog warned on Saturday.
According to a new study by the State Food and Drug Administration, Chinese people continue to self-medicate using powerful drugs to treat minor ailments, a habit that could lead to the development of stronger, resistant strains of illnesses.
A survey of 8,000 people found that roughly 23 percent will take antibiotics as soon as they suspect they have the common cold, while 9 percent will do the same when they have diarrhea.
The survey collected the views of 7,300 people throughout China via an online questionnaire, and an additional 600 people in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen completed a phone survey.
Health experts warn that antibiotics, which kill or slow down the growth of bacteria in the body, should be taken only in serious cases.
"It's not safe to use antibiotics (without guidance from a doctor)," Wang Lianglan, spokeswoman for the administration said at a news conference to promote the proper use of drugs in China.
When children develop the symptoms of a cold, their parents will often ask a doctor to give them antibiotics, she said. "This shows that many people have little knowledge on the side effects."
Peng Bibo, deputy director of the medical department at the General Hospital of Armed Police Forces in Beijing, said the overuse of antibiotics in China was a serious issue. He said that in many instances, illnesses such as a cold or the flu may be viral and not bacteria-based, rendering the antibiotics useless.
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