Antibiotics save lives. When health care professionals improve the way they prescribe antibiotics, and we improve the way we take antibiotics, we can stay healthy. That also ensures these life-saving drugs will be available for future generations.
- When you need antibiotics, the benefits outweigh the risks of side effects or antibiotic resistance.
- When you don’t need antibiotics, they won’t help you, and the side effects could still hurt you.
- Common side effects of antibiotics can include rash, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea and yeast infections. More serious side effects include Clostridioides difficile infection (also called C. difficile or C. diff), which causes diarrhea that can lead to severe colon damage and death. People can also have severe and life-threatening allergic reactions.
- Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as cold, flu or runny noses — even if the mucus is thick, yellow or green.
- Antibiotics are only needed for treating certain infections caused by bacteria. They also won’t help for some common bacterial infections, including most cases of bronchitis, many sinus infections and some ear infections.
- Taking antibiotics creates resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria no longer respond to the drugs designed to kill them.
- More than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the United States each year, and more than 35,000 people die as a result.
- If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about your antibiotics, or if you develop any side effects, especially diarrhea, since that could be a C. difficile (C. diff) infection that needs to be treated.
- Reactions from antibiotics cause one out of five medication-related visits to the emergency department. In children, reactions from antibiotics are the most common cause of medication-related emergency department visits.
For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use.