WellCat (SHC)

Medication Safety

Updated 8/8/2011

Unapproved emergency birth control medicine possibly in U.S. distribution may be ineffective and unsafe.

Safe Antibiotic Use

Do you use antibiotics wisely?

Antibiotics are important medications that really help when we need them. But taking antibiotics when they're not needed can be harmful. Taking antibiotics when they're not necessary helps resistant bacteria to grow. Resistant bacteria are not killed by normal doses of antibiotics. Also, resistant bacteria can stay in your body or spread to others in your family and community. They can cause severe illnesses that are difficult and expensive to treat.

Most infections are caused by two main kinds of germs: bacteria and viruses. Antibiotics cure infections caused by bacteria like strep throat, but have no effect against infections caused by viruses, like colds and the flu.

Viruses cause colds and the flu. Taking antibiotics for these illnesses is unnecessary and expensive. It also helps cause a problem called antibiotic resistance. The more antibiotics we take unnecessarily, the more we "teach" bacteria how to outwit them.

So why should I be concerned?

Because germs are easily passed from one person to another, antibiotic resistance affects everyone. Resistant bacteria - sometimes called "superbugs" - are not killed by usual doses of antibiotics. They cause infections that are difficult and costly to treat. Sometimes, the infections they cause are not curable.

So what should I do?

  • Don't insist on a prescription for antibiotics to treat viral illnesses like colds or the flu.
  • Take prescribed antibiotics for the full course of treatment, even if symptoms improve.
  • Only take antibiotics under the supervision of a health care professional.
  • Don't use shared or leftover antibiotics to treat an illness.