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Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work

Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

"Did you know that antibiotics do not help fight viruses? It's true. Plus, taking antibiotics when you have a virus may do more harm than good."

Are you aware that colds, flu, most sore throats, and bronchitis are caused by viruses? Did you know that antibiotics do not help fight viruses? It's true. Plus, taking antibiotics when you have a virus may do more harm than good. Taking antibiotics when they are not needed increases your risk of getting an infection later that resists antibiotic treatment.

Dangers of Antibiotic Resistance

Photo: A pharmacist assisting a customer

If antibiotics are used too often for things they can't treat—like colds, flu, or other viral infections—they can stop working effectively against bacteria when you or your child really needs them. Antibiotic resistance—when antibiotics can no longer cure bacterial infections—has been a concern for years and is considered one of the world's most pressing public health problems. Widespread overuse of antibiotics is fueling an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. So the next time you or your child really needs an antibiotic for a bacterial infection, it may not work.

If You Have a Cold or Flu, Antibiotics Won't Work for You!

Colds and flu are caused by viruses, not bacteria. Taking antibiotics when you or your child has a virus may do more harm than good. Get smart about when antibiotics are appropriate—to fight bacterial infections. Taking them for viral infections, such as a cold, most sore throats, the flu, or acute bronchitis:

  • Will not cure the infection;
  • Will not keep other people from getting sick;
  • Will not help you or your child feel better; and
  • May cause unnecessary and harmful side effects.

Photo: A doctor consulting a father and child.

What Not to Do

  • Do not demand antibiotics when a healthcare provider says they are not needed.
  • Do not take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a cold or most sore throats.
  • Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. The antibiotic may not be appropriate for your or your child’s illness. Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment and allow bacteria to multiply.

If your healthcare provider prescribes an antibiotic for you or your child:

  • Do not skip doses.
  • Do not save any of the antibiotics for the next time you or your child gets sick.

What to Do

Adults and kids should clean their hands often, especially before meals and after touching pets. And make sure both you and your child are up-to-date on recommended immunizations.

Talk with your healthcare provider about the best treatment for your or your child’s illness. To feel better when you or your child has an upper respiratory infection:

  • Increase fluid intake;
  • Get plenty of rest;
  • Use a cool-mist vaporizer or saline nasal spray to relieve congestion; and
  • Soothe a throat with ice chips, sore throat spray, or lozenges (do not give lozenges to young children).

Video: Snort. Sniffle. Sneeze. No Antibiotics Please!

CDC created a video to help you learn more about appropriate antibiotic use and how to feel better when you or your child has a sore throat, ear or sinus pain, fever, cough, or runny nose. This video features a doctor, who is also a concerned mom. You can download the video at CDC-TV, download the podcast, or access on your mobile phone.

More Information
http://www.cdc.gov/Features/GetSmart/



Keywords: antibiotics do not fight viruses colds flu bronchitis harm Beginner

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