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Don’t Use Antibiotics to Treat Colds or the Flu

If you’re suffering from a cold, the flu, or another virus, there are things you can do to help relieve the symptoms, but taking antibiotics will not help. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections, such as strep throat.

Antibiotic resistance is a serious public health problem that is primarily being caused by the repeated and improper use of antibiotics.

You can help prevent antibiotic resistance by taking these actions:

  • Don’t take antibiotics for viral infections, such as colds or the flu.
  • If you are prescribed antibiotics for a bacterial infection, take the full course of treatment even if you begin to feel better after a few days.
  • If you need to stop taking a course of antibiotics for some reason, discard leftover medication—do not save it for a future illness.
  • Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else.
  • If your healthcare provider determines that you do not have a bacterial infection, ask about ways to relieve your symptoms. Don’t pressure your provider to prescribe antibiotics.