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Antibiotics Aren’t Always the Answer

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Antibiotics save lives. Improving the way healthcare professionals prescribe antibiotics, and the way we take antibiotics, helps keep us healthy now, helps fight antibiotic resistance, and ensures that these life-saving drugs will be available for future generations.

The Facts:

When a patient needs antibiotics, the benefts outweigh the risks of side effects or antibiotic resistance.  When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help you, and the side effects could still hurt you.

Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as colds and fu, 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 for some common bacterial infections including most cases of bronchitis, many sinus infections, and some ear infections.

Why does taking antibiotics lead to antibiotic resistance?

Any time you take antibiotics, they can cause side effects and contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health.

Always remember:

  1. Antibiotic resistance does not mean the body is becoming resistant to antibiotics; it means bacteria are developing the ability to defeat the antibiotics designed to kill them.

  2. When bacteria become resistant, antibiotics cannot fight them, and the bacteria multiply.

  3. Some resistant bacteria can be harder to treat and can spread to other people.

What is the right way to take antibiotics?

If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Never save your antibiotics for later use or share them with family or friends.

Taking antibiotics only when needed helps keep us healthy now, helps fight antibiotic resistance, and ensures that these life-saving drugs will be available for future generations.

Talk with your healthcare professional if you have any questions about your antibiotics, including how they could interact with other medications you are taking, or if you develop any side effects.

What are the side effects?

Common side effects range from minor to very severe health problems and can include:

  • Rash
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Yeast Infections
  • Nausea

Get immediate medical help if you experience:

  • Severe diarrhea—it could be a symptom of a C. diff infection, which can lead to severe colon damage and death.

  • Severe and life-threatening allergic reactions, such as wheezing, hives, shortness of breath, and anaphylaxis (which also includes feeling that your throat is closing or choking, or your voice is changing).

Taking antibiotics creates resistant bacteria.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria no longer respond to the drugs designed to kill them. More than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the United States each year, and more than 35,000 people die as a result.

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. diffcile (C. diff) infection which needs to be treated.

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