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.
Many illnesses can cause the same symptoms, but they might not require the same treatment. If you have been prescribed an antibiotic for a previous illness and have recovered well, it is tempting to want to use the same antibiotic if you have similar symptoms. However, only a medical doctor who has examined you can ascertain if an illness requires treatment with antibiotics.
Do not keep leftover antibiotic treatments. If you received more antibiotic doses (e.g. tablets, gel caps) than you were prescribed, ask your pharmacist about how to dispose of the remaining doses.
Antibiotics do not work like painkillers and cannot relieve headaches, aches, pains or fevers.
Taking antibiotics against a cold or the flu has no benefit for you: antibiotics simply do not work against viral infections. In addition, antibiotics may cause several unpleasant side effects such as diarrhoea, nausea or skin rashes.
Taking antibiotics to fight mild bacterial infections, such as rhinosinusitis, sore throats, bronchitis or earaches, is often unnecessary since, in most cases, your own immune system is able to deal with such mild infections.
Most symptoms can be alleviated with over-the-counter medicines. Taking antibiotics will not reduce the severity of your symptoms and will not help you feel better faster.
If your symptoms persist or if you have any concern, it is important that you see your doctor. If you really have a severe infection such as bacterial pneumonia, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. Seek help more quickly than other people :
Your pharmacist may recommend over-the-counter medicines to help alleviate your symptoms.
Always ask for advice, especially if you are taking medicines for any other condition.
Drinking plenty of fluids and getting some rest will help improve any winter illness.
This information should not replace the information provided to you by your health care professional. If symptoms are severe or persist, please speak to your health care professional. Information current as of date of publishing. Always check with your pharmacist or medical professional before starting any new medications or supplements, particularly if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, are taking any medications currently, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or researching therapies suitable for infants or children.