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Got antibiotics? Three reasons you shouldn't take them

Bookmark and Share You're sick and miserable. A trip to your family physician leads to an awkward confrontation: You want antibiotics, your doctor doesn't want to prescribe them. Why the resistance? And… whose resistance is the issue anyway?

It may be yours.

Here are three reasons your doctor may not want to prescribe antibiotics:

1. The Institute of Medicine had identified antibiotic resistance as one of the key microbial threats to health in the United Stated. It's so important that the Institute says that targeting the inappropriate use of antibiotics is a primary solution to fight this threat. In other words, doctors aren't prescribing antibiotics for viral infections that do not respond to antibiotics.

2. A ntibiotics do not treat viral illnesses like colds and sore throats (except for strep throat). While you may view a prescription for antibiotics as a quick fix, it may be doing more harm than good.

3. When antibiotics are overused, your body created antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Over time, this can lead to more resistance, which means your body may not be able to fight off common illnesses.

So what should you do when you're sick?


Colds and flu are caused by viruses, not bacteria. Taking antibiotics when you have a virus may do more harm than good for the following reasons:

  • Antibiotics will not cure the infection
  • Antibiotics will not keep other people from getting sick
  • Antibiotics will not help you feel better
  • Antibiotics cause unnecessary and harmful side effects *

What to do?
Talk with your healthcare provider about the best treatment for your illness. To feel better when you have an upper respiratory infection and antibiotics are not needed:

  • Increase fluid intake
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Use a cool-mist vaporizer or saline nasal spray to relieve congestion
  • Soothe your throat with ice chips, sore throat spray, or lozenges (do not give lozenges to young children) *

And, if your healthcare provider determines antibiotics will treat your illness, remember to complete the prescribed dose, do not skip doses, and do not share your prescription with others.

Finally, remember that together with your healthcare provider, you can determine what's best for you.

For more information about antibiotics, and how their use can decrease your body's resistance to bacteria, visit

*Source: CDC