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Viruses or Bacteria - What's got you sick?

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get smart about antibioticsAntibiotics only treat bacterial infections. Viral illnesses cannot be treated with antibiotics. When an antibiotic is not prescribed, ask your healthcare professional for tips on how to relieve symptoms and feel better.

Antibiotics Aren’t Always the Answer


IllnessUsual CauseAntibiotic Needed
Cold/Runny NoseYesNoNo
Bronchitis/Chest Cold (in otherwise healthy children and adults)YesNoNo
Chest Cold (in otherwise healthy children and adults)YesNoNo
Whooping CoughNoYesYes
Strep ThroatNoYesYes
Sore Throat (except strep)YesNoNo
Fluid in the Middle Ear (otitis media with effusion)YesNoNo
Urinary Tract InfectionNoYesYes


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention