Keep Antibiotics Working

Antibiotics are used to treat or prevent some types of bacterial infection. They work by killing bacteria or preventing them from spreading. But they do not work for everything.


When you don't need antibiotics

Many mild bacterial infections get better on their own without using antibiotics. Antibiotics do not work for viral infections such as colds and flu, and most coughs and sore throats. Antibiotics are no longer routinely used to treat:

  • chest infections
  • ear infections in children 
  • sore throats

When it comes to antibiotics, take your doctor's advice on whether you need them or not. Antibiotic resistance is a big problem – taking antibiotics when you do not need them can mean they will not work for you in the future.


When antibiotics are needed

Antibiotics may be used to treat bacterial infections that:

  • are unlikely to clear up without antibiotics 
  • could infect others 
  • could take too long to clear without treatment 
  • carry a risk of more serious complications 

People at a high risk of infection may also be given antibiotics as a precaution, known as antibiotic prophylaxis.

Read more about when antibiotics are used and why they are not routinely used to treat infections.

Further information

The healthcare professional you see at the practice is able to advise you further on whether or not you need antibiotics.

More information on antibiotic use, including the importance of using them correctly, is available here


Published: Nov 5, 2019