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Antibiotics aren’t always the answer

GEHA | December 12, 2022

Taking unnecessary antibiotics can cause more harm than good.

Antibiotics are prescription drugs that treat bacterial infections. They fight bacterial infections by killing bacteria or making it more difficult for the bacteria to grow and multiply. While antibiotics are powerful medications, they do not cure everything and can be harmful when taken incorrectly.

Bacterial infections

Antibiotics should only be used to treat certain bacterial infections. These may include:

  • Strep throat
  • Whooping cough
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)

It is important to note that antibiotics are not needed for all bacterial infections. Some common bacterial infections that may not always need antibiotics include sinus and ear infections.

Viral infections

Never take antibiotics for viral infections. Common viral infections include:

  • Colds and runny noses
  • Most sore throats
  • Flu
  • Most cases of chest colds/bronchitis

Over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, is often the best option for treating viral infections. Extra rest is also key.

Antibiotic risks
When you take unnecessary antibiotics, they can cause more harm than good. Negative side effects of antibiotics can include:

  • Rash
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Yeast infections
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain

Improper use of antibiotics can also lead to antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance occurs when germs, such as bacteria, develop the ability to resist the drugs intended to kill them. This means that antibiotics are not able to fight serious bacterial infections, and instead allow the bacteria to continue to grow.

It is important to only take antibiotics when prescribed to treat bacterial infections. Taking antibiotics properly ensures you stay healthy and fight antibiotic resistance.

“About antimicrobial resistance.”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 October 2022
“Antibiotic resistance.”, World Health Organization, 31 July 2020
“Antibiotic use questions and answers.”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 October 2021
“Be antibiotics aware: smart use, best care.”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 November 2021

Disclaimer: This information contained herein is for informational and educational purposes only. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice and if you have questions regarding a medical condition, regimen, or treatment you should always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider. Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice from a qualified medical professional because of information you have read herein.