About Antibiotic Prescribing and Use
CDC encourages healthcare professionals, patients, and families to learn more about antibiotic prescribing and use.
Here are seven facts you should know to Be Antibiotics Aware:
- Antibiotics save lives. When a patient needs antibiotics, the benefits outweigh the risks of side effects or antibiotic resistance.
- Antibiotics aren’t always the answer. Everyone can help improve antibiotic prescribing or use.
- Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as colds and flu, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow or green.
- Antibiotics are only needed for treating certain infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotics also won’t help some common bacterial infections including most cases of bronchitis, many sinus infections, and some ear infections.
- An antibiotic will not make you feel better if you have a virus. Respiratory viruses usually go away in a week or two without treatment. Ask your healthcare professional about the best way to feel better while your body fights off the virus.
- Taking antibiotics creates resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them.
- If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about your antibiotics, or if you develop any side effects, especially diarrhea, since that could be a C. difficile (c. diff) infection which needs to be treated right away.
Page last reviewed: September 25, 2017