Antibiotics – When They Can and Can’t Help
If you are having any symptoms or have any questions, please call 811 to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day.
What are antibiotics?
Antibiotics are medicines prescribed by a health care provider. They treat infections Overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance. This makes the infection stronger. The medicine will not be able to kill the infection.
Antibiotics can only treat bacterial infections. This includes strep throat and urinary tract infections. They will not treat viruses. This includes colds, the flu or mono (mononucleosis). Some healthcare providers prescribe an antibiotic to prevent an infection. Some are prescribed to treat illnesses caused by parasites and some types of fungus.
Tips to reduce antibiotic resistance include:
- Don’t ask your healthcare provider for an antibiotic for a virus. Ask what you can do to feel better and treat your symptoms.
- Follow the daily dosing instructions. Take all of the medicine; don’t save any. This helps kill the infection completely.
- Wash your hands with soap and water before you eat and after you use the bathroom. This will keep you healthy. It will reduce the need for antibiotics
The use of acetaminophen or NSAID’s for the treatment of fever and/or pain are compatible with antibiotics. Contact your healthcare provider if a fever persists greater than 48-72 hours after the first dose of antibiotics.
Things to consider
Antibiotics are used a lot. Sometimes they are used incorrectly. Antibiotic resistance is a common problem. It occurs when bacteria in your body change. This makes it difficult for the medicine to fight the bacteria. This happens when bacteria are repeatedly exposed to the same medicine. Or, it can happen when bacteria are left in your body. Bacteria can multiply and become stronger. One day you might get an illness that can’t be treated by antibiotics. You might have to take different medicines. You may have to go to a hospital to get intravenous antibiotics (through an IV needle into your vein)
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Public Health Agency of Canada