What You Can Do to Improve Antibiotic Use - Minnesota Dept. of Health

What You Can Do to Improve Antibiotic Use

On this page:
Understand when antibiotics are needed.
Take your antibiotics in the right way.
Consider alternatives to antibiotic use when you are feeling sick.
Dispose leftover antibiotics appropriately.
Learn about appropriate antibiotic use in animals.

Understand when antibiotics are needed.

Illness Usually caused by: Antibiotics Needed
Cold/runny nose Viruses No
Acute bronchitis/chest cold Viruses No
Whooping cough Bacteria Yes
Flu Viruses No
Strep throat Bacteria Yes
Sore throat (except strep) Viruses No
Fluid in the middle ear (otitis media with effusion) Viruses No

Take your antibiotics in the right way.

  • Take the antibiotic exactly as the doctor prescribes, even if you start to feel better. Do not skip doses or stop taking an antibiotic early unless your doctor tells you to do so.
  • Only take antibiotics prescribed for you; do not share or use leftover antibiotics. Antibiotics treat specific types of infections. Taking the wrong medicine may delay treatment and allow bacteria to grow.
  • Do not save antibiotics for the next illness or infection. Get rid of any leftover medicine once the prescribed course of treatment is completed.
  • Prevent infections, including antibiotic-resistant infections, by practicing good hand hygiene and getting recommended vaccines.
  • Do not ask for antibiotics when your doctor thinks you do not need them.
  • Remember antibiotics have side effects. When you doctor says you don’t need an antibiotic, taking one may do more harm than good.

Consider alternatives to antibiotic use when you are feeling sick.

  • CDC: Symptom relief
  • CDC: Print Materials for Parents of Young Children
    These print materials include a factsheet on preventing and treating ear infections, a Q&A about runny noses, and a Return to Day Care Letter, which explains that the child had a viral infection and will not receive antibiotics and should be allowed to return to day care once his/her fever is gone.

Dispose leftover antibiotics appropriately.

  • Low levels of antibiotics in the environment might promote development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It is important to practice appropriate disposal of unused pharmaceuticals to avoid releasing antibiotics and other drugs into the environment.
    For example, one should not flush unused antibiotics down the toilet.

Learn more about how to appropriately dispose of unused antibiotics:

Learn about appropriate antibiotic use in animals.

Livestock and agriculture

Your pets

Updated Thursday, 21-Feb-2019 16:12:25 CST