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

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.

Grand Lake Health System
200 St. Clair Street, St. Marys,
Ohio 45885-2400
| 1-419-394-3335 | 1-877-564-6897