Antibiotics are medicines that fight infections caused by bacteria.
A bacterial infection is caused by a bacteria (germ) that can be treated with an antibiotic. Examples of bacterial infections include:
If you need an antibiotic, your health care provider will choose the right one for you.
A viral infection is caused by a virus (germ) that spreads easily and must run its course. Antibiotics do not work for viruses. Examples of viral infections include:
Some of the bacteria (germs) that antibiotics can treat are getting so strong
that they are becoming resistant to antibiotics.
This means that the antibiotic will not work
to treat the illness. If the germs are not stopped, they can make you sick
Using an antibiotic too much or
not taking it as directed may make germs resistant to the medicine. This
can make you sick longer. These germs can also grow and spread from person to
person, which makes some diseases hard to control.
Antibiotics may interact with prescription and over-the-counter medicines. This means the
medicines will not work as well when taken together.
Make sure your health care provider or pharmacist knows all of the medicines you are
taking. He or she can tell you if the
antibiotic may interact with your medicine(s).
Allina Health's Patient Education Department, What You Need to Know About Antibiotics, ic-ah-14035Information adapted from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts