Antibiotics are powerful, life-saving drugs. When your healthcare professional prescribes antibiotics, take them as directed. Patients can experience side effects while taking antibiotics. But remember, when antibiotics are needed, their benefits outweigh the risks of side effects and antibiotic resistance.
When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help you, and the side effects could still cause harm. Reactions from antibiotics cause 1 out of 5 medication-related visits to the emergency room.
In children, reactions from antibiotics are the most common cause of medication-related emergency room visits.
What do antibiotics treat?
Antibiotics are only needed for treating certain infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotics
are critical tools for treating life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia and sepsis, which is the body’s extreme response to an infection.
What don’t antibiotics treat?
Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such
as those that cause colds, flu, bronchitis, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow, or green. Antibiotics also won’t help some common bacterial infections, including most cases of bronchitis, many sinus infections, and some ear infections.
How can I stay healthy?
You can stay healthy and keep others healthy by:
- Cleaning hands by washing with soap and water for 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
- Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow
- etting recommended vaccines, such as the flu vaccine
Talk to your healthcare professional about steps you can take to help prevent illness.