When you are sick, you want to feel better fast. But antibiotics aren’t always the answer.
- Taking an antibiotic when it’s not needed can cause resistant bacteria.
- Resistant bacteria are stronger and harder to kill. They can stay in your body longer and cause serious illness. A cure for resistant bacteria may require stronger treatment – and possibly a stay in the hospital.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you don’t take unnecessary antibiotics.
- For more information on resistant bacteria, visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/community
Viruses cause a lot of illnesses, including colds, flu, most coughs (including bronchitis), and many sore throats.
- Antibiotics can’t kill a virus, so they won’t help you get over your illness faster.
- Antibiotics won’t make you feel better if you have a virus.
- Antibiotics won’t keep others from catching your illness.
- Antibiotics don’t prevent illnesses.
Bacteria cause some infections like strep throat, sinus infections, and some pneumonia.
- Antibiotics will help these infections.
- If the doctor gives you an antibiotic, take all of it – even if you feel better before it’s all gone. Not taking all of your antibiotics can lead to resistant bacteria, and your illness can come back.
- Don’t take an antibiotic that was given to someone else.
Your doctor will ask questions and do an exam to find out if you have a viral or a bacterial infection.
- Green or yellow mucus is normal with viral infections. The color of mucus doesn’t help figure out which kind of infection you have.
- Both viral and bacterial infections cause fevers.
- The doctor will give you advice on how to feel better.
- Let your doctor know if your symptoms change, get worse, or last more than 7 to 10 days.