Antibiotics are beneficial for infections caused by bacteria, but there are potential disadvantages to receiving antibiotics. Antibiotics kill the targeted bacteria but may have an effect on other bacteria in the body as well, some people may also experience adverse reactions to antibiotics. Both of which can cause serious or life-threatening illness. Additionally, taking antibiotics can not only affect you, but can affect others around you too. Using antibiotics when they are not needed can lead to bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics.
Antibiotic resistance is when germs, like bacteria, develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. Antibiotic resistance is a top threat to the public’s health and a priority across the globe. According to a report from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), in the US, antibiotic-resistant bacteria cause more than 2 million infections and 35,000 deaths per year. Worldwide, antibiotic resistance threatens our progress in health care, food production, and ultimately, life expectancy.
Antimicrobial stewardship (AS) is a coordinated effort that promotes the appropriate use of antibiotics, reduces the potential for antibiotic resistance, and decreases the spread of infections caused by multi-drug-resistant organisms.
The best ways to prevent antibiotic resistance are:
- Only use antibiotics when needed. Don't take an antibiotic for a cold, cough, sore throat, or influenza; these illnesses are caused by a virus and will not be cured by an antibiotic. Antibiotics only work against bacteria, not viruses.
- When prescribed, take the antibiotic exactly as directed. Do not skip a dose and complete the entire course of antibiotic, even if you feel better. Not taking all of the prescribed antibiotics could result in some bacteria surviving and going on to cause re-infection and possibly develop resistance to the antibiotic.
- Do not save antibiotics to use later. They may not be as effective over time and different illnesses may need different antibiotics.
- Do not take someone else's antibiotics. The antibiotic may not work for your illness and may interfere with the correct treatment, prolonging the illness.
- Do not demand an antibiotic when a health care provider has determined it is not necessary.
Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
- Community-Associated Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) - Patient and Family Information Pamphlet, P-42170 (PDF)
- Community-Associated Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA MRSA) Fact Sheet, P-42185 (PDF)
- Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Fact Sheet, P-42073 (PDF)