Get Smart About Antibiotics

What should I use antibiotics for?

Antibiotics are used to fight bacterial infections, which means they will do nothing for infections caused by viruses like: colds, the flu, most sore throats, and bronchitis. The best things you can do for viral infections are get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids. You can also use over the counter medications to help reduce your symptoms and allow the viral infection to run its course.


What happens if I take antibiotics when I don’t need them?

The inappropriate use of antibiotics can lead to antibacterial resistance. This happens when bacteria survive the exposure to the antibacterial drugs and grow stronger. This is dangerous and can lead to the emergence of multi-drug resistant bacterial infections.

Get Smart About Antibiotics
  • Do not demand antibiotics when your healthcare provider says you don’t need them
  • Do not take an antibiotic for a viral infection
  • Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. The antibiotic may not be right for your illness. Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment and allow bacteria to grow.
If your provider prescribes an antibiotic for a bacterial infection:
  • Do not skip doses.
  • Do not stop taking the antibiotics early unless your healthcare provider tells you to do so.
  • Do not save any of the antibiotics for the next time you or your child gets sick.