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Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance is when an antibiotic no longer works and is not effective against fighting infections. It’s caused by the unnecessary and over use of antibiotics. It affects everyone and is one of the biggest public health threats facing the world.

Taking antibiotics when we don’t need to helps bacteria become stronger. This can lead to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria. This can cause serious infections that then become difficult or not possible to treat.

You can find out more about antibiotic resistance and how to become an Antibiotic Guardian on their website.

Antibiotics are life-saving medicines

Antibiotics are some of our most precious medicines. Antibiotics:

  • are life-saving drugs
  • fight infections like meningitis and pneumonia caused by bacteria
  • are not effective at treating most coughs, colds and sore throats as they are mainly caused by viruses
  • don't kill bacteria as well as they used to as they've become resistant. In fact, there are some bacteria that are totally resistant to all antibiotics

You can read more about antibiotics on the NHS Choices website.

How you can help

We can’t stop antibiotic resistance but we can slow it down by preserving the antibiotics we currently have for now and future generations. We need to act fast and together before we enter an era where no antibiotics work.

You can slow down bacterial resistance by:

  • not taking antibiotics every time you’re ill. Antibiotics make very little difference to colds, flu, sore throats and coughs 
  • taking antibiotics exactly as they're prescribed. Never save them to use in the future or give them to someone else
  • spreading the word. Send your friends and family a link to this page

Antibiotics don't work for illnesses caused by viruses.

When you need antibiotics

You need antibiotics for serious bacterial infections including:

  • sepsis
  • pneumonia
  • urinary tract infections
  • sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhoea
  • meningococcal meningitis

When you don't need antibiotics

You don't need antibiotics for colds, flu, vomiting or for most coughs, ear infections, throat infections, diarrhoea or cystitis.

Do you know when to take antibiotics quiz

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