Antibiotics are medicines used to treat bacterial infections such as urinary tract infections, strep throat, certain pneumonias, etc. They save lives by preventing disease and preventing the spread of disease.

Antibiotics do not treat viral infections such as cold and flu.

As antibiotics can interact with other medications, it is important to tell your health care provider about all medications you are taking, including over-the-counter medications and vitamins.

Prescribing/Using Antibiotics

  • You can find topical antibiotics over the counter, but oral and injectable antibiotics need to be prescribed.
  • It’s important to follow the directions and take all of the medication as directed. You should not have leftover medication.
  • You should never use antibiotics prescribed to anyone other than yourself.
  • Antibiotics can stop some infections and even save lives, but they also can do more harm than good if they are not used correctly. Protect yourself and your family by knowing when to use antibiotics and when not to. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers up-to-date information on antibiotic resistance and proper use.

Antibiotic Resistance

When bacteria are exposed to the same antibiotic repeatedly, the antibiotic stops working. Being exposed to the same antibiotic for a long time can make some bacteria change and become stronger so they can fight back against the antibiotics. These bacteria are said to be “resistant” to this antibiotic.

The leading contributor to antibiotic resistance is overuse and misuse of antibiotics. Using antibiotics when they are not prescribed can be damaging.

On an individual level, misuse/overuse of antibiotics can:

  • Kill the healthy bacteria, allowing more harmful bacteria to grow in their place, making your infection worse
  • Cause adverse reactions such as nausea and diarrhea
  • Increase your risk of an antibiotic-resistant infection at a later date
  • Increase the chance of spreading antibiotic-resistant bacteria to someone else

On a societal level, our population’s increased misuse/overuse of antibiotics causes the bacteria to adjust and evolve into “superbugs” that are resistant to existing antibiotics. This increases the spread of disease and death.

For more information on antibiotic resistance, check out the Centers for Disease Control’s “Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work” campaign.

Never share prescription drugs! If it doesn't have your name on it, don't take it.
Always provide your doctor with a full list of all medications/drugs you use. This includes prescription drugs, vitamins, and recreational drugs.