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What Everyone Should Know:

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

Are you aware that colds, flu, most sore throats, bronchitis, and many sinuses and ear infections are caused by viruses? Did you know that antibiotics do not help fight viruses? It’s true. For the overwhelming majority of common respiratory infections, antibiotics are not helpful.

Antibiotics cure bacterial infections, not viral infections such as:

·         Colds or flu

·         Most coughs and bronchitis

·         Most sore throats

·         Runny noses

Taking antibiotics for viral infections will not:

·         Cure the infection

·         Keep other individuals from catching the illness

·         Help you feel better

Antibiotics Can Cause More Harm than Good

Taking antibiotics when you have a virus may do more harm than good:

·         Taking antibiotics increase your risk of getting an antibiotic-resistant infection later.

·         Antibiotics kill the healthy bacteria in the gut, allowing more harmful bacteria, such as C. difficile, to grow in its place.

·         Although this infection is more commonly found in hospitals, it also occurs in clinics outside of the hospital. 

o    According to the international data generated by CDC, Antibiotics are the most common cause of emergency department visits for adverse drug events in children under 18 years of age.

It’s important to only take antibiotics for bacterial infections since they can put you or your child at risk for harmful side effects and antibiotic-resistant infections.

When you use antibiotics appropriately, you do the best for your health, your family’s health, and the health of those around you. Here are tips on how to use antibiotics wisely.



What You Should Do

·         Ask your healthcare professional about what you can to stop or slow antibiotic resistance.

o    Let them know you are concerned about this issue.

·         Ask your healthcare professional if there are steps you can take to feel better and get relief from your symptoms without using antibiotics.

o    Sometimes the best treatment for your illness may be relieving your symptoms, not an antibiotic.

·         Take the prescribed antibiotic exactly as your healthcare professional tells you.

o    If taken improperly, antibiotics are more likely to cause harm.

o    Take your antibiotic exactly as prescribed, never save them for later use and never share them with others

·         Ask your healthcare professional about vaccines recommended for you and your family.

o    Vaccines are an effective way to prevent infections that may require an antibiotic.

o    Vaccines are also an important way to keep diseases from spreading.

What You Should Not Do

·         Never take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a cold or the flu. Antibiotics do NOT cure viral infections such as:

o    Colds

o    Flu

o    Most sore throats

o    Most coughs and bronchitis (“chest colds”)

o    Many sinus infections

o    Many ear infections

·         Never pressure your healthcare professional to prescribe an antibiotic.

·         Never skip doses.

·         Never save antibiotics for the next time you become sick and do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else.

o    Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment, allow bacteria to multiply, and cause unwanted or severe side effects. Discard any leftover medication.

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