Antibiotics are powerful medicines and should only be taken when prescribed by a health professional.

When antibiotics are prescribed, remember to tell the clinician if you have any allergies, or are taking other medicines, especially the contraceptive pill. It is important that you always take it as directed; a lower dose, or at the incorrect interval or duration encourages resistance to develop.
Antibiotics can upset the natural balance of the bacteria in your body. This allows more harmful bacteria to increase and may result in diarrhoea or thrush.

Getting better without antibiotics: 
How should I treat my cold?
The best way to treat most colds, coughs and sore throats is to drink plenty of fluids and to rest. Colds can last about two weeks, and may end up with a cough. There are many over the counter remedies to ease the symptoms-paracetamol for example. Ask the pharmacist for advice. However,
if the cold persists, you become breathless or have chest pains, or already have a chest condition, see your G.P.

What about my children? They are always getting colds...
It is very common for children to get colds, especially when they mix with other children such as at school. Ask your pharmacist for advice. However, if you are concerned, see a doctor, but antibiotics may not be the answer.

Should antibiotics not be used to treat colds?
All colds and most sore throats are caused by viruses. Antibiotics do not work against viruses.

What are antibiotics?
Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Bacteria can adapt to find ways to survive
the effects of antibiotics. They become antibiotic resistant so that the antibiotic no longer works. The more often we use an antibiotic, the more likely it is to develop resistance. Some bacteria that cause infections in hospitals, such as MRSA, are resistant to several antibiotics.

Why can’t different antibiotics be used?
They can, but they may not be as effective, and may have more side effects; eventually the bacteria will become resistant to them as well. We cannot always be sure that we can develop new antibiotics to replace the old ones.

How can antibiotic resistance be avoided? 
By using antibiotics less often we can slow down the development of resistance.
Your doctor will only prescribe antibiotics when you need them. They may be life saving in severe infections such as meningitis. By not using them unnecessarily, they are more likely to work when we need them. Always follow the directions for use.

Call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergencyNHS ChoicesThis site is brought to you by My Surgery Website