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Safe Use of Antibiotics

Did you know that antibiotics don't always work when you're sick?

It's true! Antibiotics don’t fight viruses like a cold or the flu. In fact, taking unnecessary antibiotics can make infections harder to treat in the future because some bacteria can become resistant to the antibiotic. These resistant bacteria are stronger and harder to kill. They can stay in your body and can cause severe illnesses that cannot be cured with antibiotics. A cure for resistant bacteria may require stronger treatment – and possibly a stay in the hospital. To avoid the threat of antibiotic-resistant infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you avoid taking unnecessary antibiotics. 

Learn about the difference:

Most illnesses are caused by two kinds of germs: bacteria or viruses. Antibiotics can cure bacterial infections – not viral infections.

  • Bacteria cause strep throat, some pneumonia and sinus infections. Antibiotics can work.
  • Viruses cause the common cold, most coughs and the flu. Antibiotics don’t work.

Using antibiotics for a virus:

  • Will NOT cure the infection
  • Will NOT help you feel better
  • Will NOT keep others from catching your illness

For more information, ask your doctor or visit

Information gathered from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.