Get Smart About Antibiotics
You don’t always need antibiotics when you’re sick—only for infections caused by bacteria. And overuse is causing a global health problem. Learn more about safe antibiotic use.
DR. JOSEPH TOERNER: It’s time to get smart about antibiotics. You may think that if you’re sick, you need them. But that’s not always true.
I’m Dr. Joseph Toerner, a medical officer at FDA. And there are things you need to know about antibiotics.
For starters, they won’t cure anything and everything that ails you. An antibiotic is a drug that kills bacteria.
It won’t cure a cold or the flu - no matter how lousy you feel - because those infections are caused by viruses.
When should antibiotics be prescribed? When you’ve got an infection caused by bacteria, like strep throat.
There are some simple dos and don’ts when it comes to taking an antibiotic.
DO take it as directed.
DON’T stop taking it because you’re starting to feel better.
DON’T share it.
DON’T save it.
And DON’T pressure your healthcare provider to prescribe an antibiotic.
All drugs can have side effects. So if you’ve got a viral infection, an antibiotic not only won’t help – it could make you feel worse.
In fact, overuse of antibiotics has caused the growth of antibiotic resistance – a serious health problem. That’s when bacteria change in a way that makes antibiotics less effective.
Bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics can hurt you. In the future, it is possible that no antibiotic will be effective in killing resistant bacteria.
So get smart about antibiotics. Use them exactly as directed and only to treat infections caused by bacteria.
To learn about using antibiotics safety and effectively, visit www.fda.gov/ Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers