Antibiotic Resistance

Sniffle or Sneeze? No Antibiotics Please

According to the CDC, antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in the United States. Each year, at least 2 million people get serious infections with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics designed to treat those infections. Patients and families can play an important role in helping to ensure antibiotics are always used appropriately.

What is an antibiotic?

Antibiotics are drugs that fight infections caused by bacteria in both humans and animals. Antibiotics do not have any effect on viruses. When used properly, antibiotics fight these infections either by killing the bacteria or making it difficult for the bacteria to grow and multiply. However, if antibiotics are taken when not needed or used improperly, they can do more harm than good. Using antibiotics in the wrong way can lead to antibiotic resistant infections.

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to resist the effects of an antibiotic. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in a way that reduces the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. In others words, the bacteria survive and continue to multiply, causing more harm.

Why should I care about antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world's most pressing public health problems. Antibiotic resistance can cause illnesses that were once easily treatable with antibiotics to become dangerous infections, prolonging suffering for children and adults. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can spread to family members, schoolmates, and co-workers, and may threaten your community. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are often more difficult to kill and more expensive to treat. In some cases, the antibiotic-resistant infections can lead to serious disability or even death. Although some people think a person becomes resistant to specific drugs, it is the bacteria, not the person, that become resistant to the drugs.

What can I do to help prevent antibiotic resistance?

Ask your healthcare professional if there are steps you can take to feel better and get symptomatic relief without using antibiotics.
Ask your healthcare professional about vaccines recommended for you and your family to prevent infections that may require an antibiotic.
Take the prescribed antibiotic exactly as your healthcare professional tells you.
Discard any leftover medication. Never save antibiotics for the next time you get sick.
Never skip doses or stop taking an antibiotic early unless your healthcare professional tells you to do so. It is important to finish your medication even if you feel better. If you stop treatment too soon, some bacteria may survive and start the infection again.
Never take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a cold or the flu.
Never pressure your healthcare professional to prescribe an antibiotic.
Only take antibiotics prescribed for you.

What questions should I ask my provider about antibiotics?

     1. Do I really need an antibiotic?
               You do not need antibiotics for:
               • Colds or flu
               • Most coughs and bronchitis
               • Sore throats not caused by strep
               • Runny noses or
               • Most earaches

     2. Can I get better without this antibiotic?
     3. What side effects or drug interactions can I expect?
     4. What side effects should I report to you?
     5. How do you know what kind of infection I have?

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