Too Much of a Good Thing...Excessive Antibiotics


Many parents specifically ask their child's doctor for a prescription for an antibiotic when their child has a cold or sore throat. In fact, almost 75% of children's antibiotic prescriptions are related to these conditions. However, most of these infections are caused by viruses that do NOT get better with antibiotics. Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses.

Taking antibiotics when they are not needed can cause less harmful bacteria in the body to grow stronger. Then, a more powerful antibiotic will be needed if those bacteria cause an illness. These toughened germs can spread to other people, even those who have not taken antibiotics unnecessarily.

A few years ago, the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration began to warn consumers about this serious health problem. The program, called Get Smart, includes written materials and a poster (to the right) that covers common upper respiratory infections that are NOT helped by taking antibiotics.

If you or a family member have a virus, ask your doctor or pharmacist about other ways to help you feel better. Taking antibiotics only when you really need them protects your health, your family's health, and the health of people in the community where you live.

Created on November 1, 2006

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