Antibiotics save lives, but they’re not always the answer when you’re sick. When they aren’t needed, they won’t help you. And the side effects could still cause harm.
Antibiotics don't work on infections caused by viruses. This includes colds, flu, bronchitis and runny nose (even with thick, yellow or green mucus). And they won't make you feel better if you have a viral infection. Most respiratory viruses go away in a week or two with no treatment. Ask your doctor or pharmacist what you can do to feel better while your body fights the virus.
What if I take antibiotics when I don’t need them?
Antibiotics can always cause side effects. These often include rash, faintness, nausea, loose stools and yeast infections. More serious side effects include C. difficile infection. This can cause diarrhea that can lead to severe colon damage and death. People can also have severe and life-threatening allergic reactions.
Taking antibiotics also creates resistant bacteria. This happens when bacteria no longer respond to the drugs designed to kill them.
Can antibiotic resistance affect me?
Yes! Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to public health. More than 2.8 million infections that don't respond to antibiotics happen in the U.S. each year. More than 35,000 people die as a result.
How can I stay healthy and keep others healthy?
- Clean your hands thoroughly.
- Cover your mouth when you cough.
- Stay home when you’re sick.
- Get recommended shots, like the flu vaccine.
What if I am prescribed antibiotics?
If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed.Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions. Tell them if you notice any side effects, chiefly diarrhea. That could be C. difficile infection, which needs to be treated!. In some cases, your doctor may give you a prescription for antibiotics, but tell you to wait and see if you feel better before filling it. If you do feel better, don't fill the prescription and risk the side effects.
Why should everyone try to help improve antibiotic prescribing and use?
Antibiotics save lives. They are critical tools for treating life-threatening health issues like pneumonia and sepsis. Helping healthcare experts improve how they prescribe antibiotics, and improving how we take them helps keep us healthy. It also helps fight antibiotic resistance. This ensures that these life-saving drugs will be there for people in the future.