Three Things to Know about Antibiotics this Cold and Flu Season

Antibiotics are important and really help when we need them. Using antibiotics when they aren’t needed helps resistant bacteria grow. Antibiotic resistant bacteria cause at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths1 every year in the US, and 1/3 of all antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary2.

  1. Antibiotics DO NOT work against viral infections like coughs, sore throats, colds or the flu. Check out the chart for effective self-care methods.
  2. Taking antibiotics when they are not needed or not taking every dose helps resistant bacteria to grow. If you are prescribed an antibiotic, take every dose as prescribed even if symptoms go away and never share antibiotics or save them for later.
  3. Antibiotics can cause side effects like skin rashes, nausea, and diarrhea. They will kill bacteria living in your gut that keep you healthy. Using antibiotics when they are not necessary might also put you at risk for developing an antibiotic resistant infection. Keep yourself healthy this season by preventing the spread of infection:

– Wash your hands often

– Stay up to date on pneumonia and flu vaccinations

– Eat healthy and exercise

– Get plenty of sleep

– Stay home when you aren’t feeling well

Though, after all your prevention efforts, you still acquire an annoying infection, combat the symptoms or soothe the infected area with these self-care tips:


  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013.
  2. Pew Charitable trusts. Antibiotic Use in Outpatient Settings: Health experts create national targets to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions, 2016.

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