8 Tips for Improving Antibiotic Use

5/4/2017

Improving antibiotic use starts with you! Using antibiotics wisely is the best way to ensure they work for future bacterial illnesses and prevent unnecessary side effects.

Here are tips for how to use antibiotics wisely (Hint: It starts with preventing infections in the first place):

1. Keep up with vaccinations. Vaccinations help prevent infections that may require antibiotics and helps prevent diseases from spreading.

2. Handwashing. Washing your hands is one of the best ways to keep yourself and your family healthy by preventing the spread of germs that cause infections.

3. Ask about symptom relief. Never pressure your healthcare professional for antibiotics, instead ask for the best treatment for your illness. Talk to your healthcare professional or pharmacist about how to relieve symptoms so that you can feel better.
4. Only take antibiotics for infections caused by bacteria. Illnesses caused by viruses, like the common cold and the flu, do not improve with antibiotics. Using antibiotics when they are not needed can cause harmful side effects and make antibiotics less powerful against certain bacteria.

5. Ask if watchful waiting is right for you. Even some bacterial infections, like mild sinus and ear infections, can get better without antibiotics. For some illnesses, your healthcare professional may recommend watchful waiting, meaning waiting a few days to see if you get better before deciding to prescribe antibiotics.

6. Ask about side effects. Talk to your healthcare professional or pharmacist about potential side effects of antibiotics.

7. Take antibiotics exactly as prescribed. Even if you feel better, do not skip doses or stop taking an antibiotic early without approval from your healthcare professional.

8. Throw leftover antibiotics away. Never save antibiotics for future illnesses, take antibiotics prescribed for others, or share antibiotics with others. Talk to your pharmacist about how to dispose of leftover antibiotics.

Visit cdc.gov/getsmart to learn more about using antibiotics wisely.

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