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The Right Way To Take Antibiotics

What do antibiotics do?

Antibiotics kill or slow the growth of bacteria by attaching to specific targets on, or within bacteria. However, antibiotics can lose their effectiveness if they’re not used correctly. This loss of effectiveness is called ‘antibiotic resistance’ and it is a growing problem around the world. (1,2)

What are the important considerations when taking antibiotics?

Antibiotics do not work against viruses because they have no target to attack in a virus, since viruses are constructed differently from bacteria. Therefore, taking antibiotics for a viral infection doesn’t kill the virus, but contributes to antibiotic resistance. (1,2)

What should you do to ensure you are taking antibiotics correctly? (3-6)

  • NEVER skip doses (e.g., taking the drug once a day when the doctor has prescribed 2 or 3 times a day).
  • NEVER take antibiotics when they are not needed (e.g., to treat coughs or colds caused by a virus).
  • NEVER take antibiotics that were prescribed for someone else, or that were left over from a previous prescription.
  • ALWAYS take your antibiotics exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not buy or use antibiotics without first seeing your doctor and getting a proper prescription.
  • ALWAYS finish the full course of antibiotics, even if you start to feel better.
  • ALWAYS ask your doctor if you have any questions or if you experience side effects that make you want to stop taking them.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, 2013.
    Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/pdf/ar-threats-2013-508.pdf Accessed on 31 December 2018.
  2. Laxminarayan R, et al. Antibiotic resistance –the need for global solutions. Lancet Infect Dis 2013;13:1057-1098
  3. World Health Organization, 2016. Antibiotic resistance fact sheet. Available at: www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/antibiotic-resistance/en/ Accessed 31 December 2018.
  4. US Food and Drug Administration. Combating antibiotic resistance.
    Available at: www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm092810.htm Accessed 31 December 2018.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Antibiotic resistance questions and answers.
    Available at: www.cdc.gov/getsmart/community/about/antibiotic-resistance-faqs.html Accessed 31 December 2018.
  6. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Factsheet for the general public – Antimicrobial resistance.
    Available at: https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/antimicrobial-resistance/facts/factsheets/general-public Accessed 31 December 2018.

PP-CPF-IND-0011 | 11th January 2019