What are antibiotics?
Do antibiotics work against all infections?
What is "antibiotic resistance?" What is "bacterial resistance?"
Bacteria that are resistant to one antibiotic can sometimes be treated with other antibiotics. These other medicines may have to be given intravenously (through a vein) in a hospital. A few kinds of bacteria are resistant to all antibiotics and are now untreatable.
What can I do to help myself and my family?
How do I know when I need antibiotics?
- Colds and flu. Viruses cause these illnesses. They can't be cured with antibiotics.
- Cough or bronchitis. Viruses almost always cause these. However, if you have a problem with your lungs or an illness that lasts a long time, bacteria may actually be the cause. Your doctor may decide to try using an antibiotic.
- Sore throat. Most sore throats are caused by viruses and don't need antibiotics. However, strep throat is caused by bacteria. Your doctor can determine if you have strep throat and can prescribe an antibiotic.
- Ear infections. There are several types of ear infections. Antibiotics are used for some (but not all) ear infections.
- Sinus infections. Antibiotics are often used to treat sinus infections. However, a runny nose and yellow or green mucus do not necessarily mean you need an antibiotic.
What else do I need to know?
Never take antibiotics without a prescription. If, for whatever reason, you have antibiotics leftover from a time when you were previously sick, do not take them unless your doctor tells you it's okay. The leftover antibiotics may not work on whatever is making you sick. If they do work, there probably will not be enough leftover medicine to completely kill all the bacteria in your body. Not only will you not get better, but this increases the chance that the bacteria will become resistant to antibiotics.
You can prevent catching infections in the first place by practicing good hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water, especially after using the restroom, coming into contact with feces (for example, from a pet or from changing a baby's diaper) and before eating.
( Courtesy: Family doctor: http://familydoctor.org/ )