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Antibiotics aren’t always the answer.

Antibiotics treat bacterial infections. They can't treat viral illness, like a cold. Ask your healthcare professional for tips on how to relieve symptoms if your provider doesn’t prescribe antibiotics.

We use too many antibiotics. That’s the biggest factor leading to antibiotic resistance. Up to 50 percent of all antibiotics aren’t needed or aren’t effective as prescribed. Antibiotics are also used in food sources to promote growth and to prevent disease.

Antibiotics can save lives, but poor practices put people at risk. Improper use can lead to allergic reactions, severe antibiotic-resistant infections and deadly diarrhea. Using antibiotics the wrong way now hurts our ability to fight diseases in the future.

What You Can Do

You can help fight antibiotic resistance! Follow these steps to make sure antibiotics effectively treat bacterial infections and prevent the spread of disease.

  • Practice good hand hygiene and get recommended vaccines to help prevent infections.
  • Be sure to take antibiotics exactly as the doctor prescribes (don't skip doses or stop early).
  • Don't ask for antibiotics when your doctor thinks you don't need them.

Common Illnesses

 Illness Usual Cause - Virus Usual Cause - Bacteria Antibiotic Needed?
Cold/Runny Nose Yes No No
Bronchitis/Chest Cold Yes No No
Whooping Cough (Pertussis) No Yes Yes
Flu Yes No No
Strep Throat No Yes Yes
Sore Throat Yes No No
Fluid in the Middle Ear (Ear Infection) Yes No No
Urinary Tract Infection No Yes Yes

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