Use antibiotics properly to keep them working
Antibiotic resistance - how you can help
Antibiotics are needed for serious bacterial infections.
When antibiotics are not used correctly, the bacteria they are designed to treat can become resistant, this is known as antimicrobial resistance.
Antibiotic resistance is a threat to human health and to medicines worldwide.
The more antibiotics (such as penicillin) and other antimicrobial medicines are used, the less effective they become.
This is an issue that affects everyone and could have devastating consequences.
It's vital that this problem is tackled urgently so the health of current and future generations can be safeguarded.
Some of the ways you can help:
- don’t take antibiotics that haven’t been prescribed for you
- if your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, make sure you take it according to the instructions - make sure you finish the course and don’t just stop because you’re feeling better
- never share antibiotics with anyone else or use leftover antibiotics
- wash your hands to help prevent the spread of infection in the first place - especially after using the bathroom, before preparing or eating food, after coughing or sneezing, or if your hands are visibly dirty
You can find more information about using antibiotics wisely at these links:
Colds or flu
Antibiotics are not effective against simple infections, such as a cold or flu.
Most simple infections clear up on their own and most coughs, sore throats or earaches do not need antibiotics. Your body can usually fight these infections on its own.
The first place to get advice is from your pharmacist. There are things you can get over the counter to look after yourself during your illness and ease the symptoms until it passes.
If you’re worried, contact your GP’s surgery, who will be able to advise on the best treatment for you.
You can find useful information on these pages:
Antibiotics and pets
If you own a pet, a vet prescribes antibiotics after a clinical assessment and they will decide which antibiotic, at what dose, and for how long is correct.
Follow the advice given by your vet and use any antibiotics prescribed as instructed on the label.
Using antibiotics in agriculture
Antibiotics are essential medicines for treating bacterial infections in animals. Everyone using antibiotics in agriculture should make sure they are used responsibly to make sure they stay effective.