Antibiotics Aren’t Always the Answer

November 18th –24th is Get Smart About Antibiotics Week


Pomona, NY – The Rockland County Department of Health reminds residents that if you have a cold or flu, antibiotics won’t work for you. When you feel sick, you want to feel better fast. But antibiotics aren’t the answer for every illness.

Most illnesses are caused by two kinds of germs: bacteria or viruses. “Antibiotics can cure infections caused by bacteria, but not infections caused by viruses (such as colds or flu, most coughs and bronchitis, sore throats not caused by strep bacteria, or runny noses). Taking antibiotics for viral infections will not cure the infections, or keep other people from catching the illness, or help you feel better,” said Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, Rockland County Commissioner of Health.

Antibiotics are strong medicines, but they don’t cure everything, and when not used correctly, they can actually be harmful to your health. Taking antibiotics when they are not needed increases your risk of getting an infection later that is stronger and harder to treat. This is called antibiotic resistance.

Follow these tips and get smart about antibiotics:

· Talk with your health care provider about antibiotic resistance – ask whether an antibiotic is likely to be helpful for your illness and what else you can do to feel better sooner.

· When your health care provider orders an antibiotic, take it exactly as he/she tells you. Don’t skip doses or share your medicine with others. Complete the medicine your health care provider ordered even if you are feeling better. If you stop too soon, some bacteria may survive and can make you sick again. Make sure your children take all the medicine the health care provider orders even if they feel better.

· Throw away any leftover medication once you have completed your prescription.

· Don’t take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. The antibiotic may not be the right one for your illness. Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment and allow bacteria to multiply.

· Don’t ask for antibiotics when your health care provider thinks you do not need them. Remember antibiotics have side effects. When your health care provider says you don’t need an antibiotic, taking one may do more harm than good.

When you use antibiotics correctly, you do the best for your health, your family’s health, and the health of those around you. For more information talk with your health care provider, or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at

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