What Are Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are medicines that fight infections caused by bacteria. Examples include penicillin and ciprofloxacin. They are not used for infections caused by viruses (such as colds or flu).


What Are Antibiotics and How Do I Know if I Need Them?

Antibiotics are prescribed by a doctor, nurse practitioner or dentist, and obtained from a pharmacy. Some common reasons for prescribing antibiotics include strep throat, urinary tract infections, and pneumonia.

Sometimes antibiotics are given to prevent infection but only in special cases such as prior to some surgeries or when a person’s immune system has been altered (for example, if receiving chemotherapy). Many common infections (such as ear infections) could be caused by viruses, or get better on their own without medication. Your healthcare provider will decide whether or not antibiotics are required based on your situation.


Download the antibiotic wise checklist

Take the Antibiotic Quiz

What Are Antibiotics and How Do I Take Them Safely?

Antibiotics can be in the form of pills or liquids. They will come with directions for how much to take, at what times of day, along with other directions, such as “take with food” or “keep refrigerated.” Different types of antibiotics work in different ways and following instructions will ensure better treatment outcome and minimize the chance of side effects.

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