When are antibiotics needed? What can I do when
Your general practitioner is the best person to advise
antibiotics are not required?
on the use of antibiotics, depending on the cause of
Get plenty of rest.
Here are some basic guidelines.
Coughs and Bronchitis Drink seven - eight glasses of water each day.
• In most cases, coughs and bronchitis are caused
by viruses and rarely need antibiotics.
Avoid cigarettes or smoky environments. Do they always help?
• Coughs that produce yellow or green phlegm rarely Regular paracetamol in correct doses may
need antibiotics. relieve aches and reduce fever.
Colds and Flu Inhalations may be used to help reduce congestion.
• Colds and flu are caused by viruses and can last (Steam inhalations are not recommended for
for two weeks or more.
• Antibiotics have no effect on these infections.
• Yellow or greenish coloured mucus in the nose does Saline nasal sprays can help clear mucus.
not necessarily mean antibiotics are needed.
Check with your general practitioner or pharmacist
Sore throats to see if a decongestant or other medication may
• A virus usually causes a sore throat that is be helpful.
accompanied by a cold or cough.
• A strep throat (diagnosed by a laboratory test)
can be treated with antibiotics. If your illness worsens or continues for
more than two weeks see your general
Sinus infections practitioner.
• Many symptoms of sinus infections are similar to
the symptoms of a cold.
• Symptoms that last less than two weeks are more
than likely to be caused by a virus.
• Antibiotics may be prescribed by your general Antibiotics used appropriately can stop
practitioner for severe sinus infections that last more infections and save lives.
than two weeks. When used inappropriately they can
Further copies can be obtained from: do more harm than good.
Ear Infections Quality Use of Medicines Program
Drug & Alcohol Services South Australia Protect yourself and your community
• A few ear infections may require antibiotics. Tel: 8274 3431 by knowing when to use antibiotics and
• Most people will be free of pain within 24 hours when to avoid them.
without the use of antibiotics.
• If symptoms persist for more than 24 to 72 hours
(depending on age) your general practitioner may
Antibiotics are among the most valuable What can be done about Do antibiotics cure all
medicines known. However, as a society
we use them far too frequently when
resistant bacteria? infections?
they are not required. This helps
The occurrence of resistance cannot be stopped, but
antibiotic resistant bacteria to flourish
the development and spread can be minimised by: Two common types of infection are:
within our community.
• only using antibiotics when absolutely necessary • Viral
• knowing what sort of illnesses respond to antibiotics - antibiotics have no effect on viral infections
What is antibiotic resistance? • understanding recovery from many infections will - viruses cause all types of flu and colds, and
occur within the same time frame, with or without most coughs and sore throats
• Antibiotics are used to destroy bacteria, however
sometimes certain bacteria survive, adapt, grow antibiotics. - recovery from viral infections will happen
and multiply. within the same number of days with or
% Drug-resistant bacteria in Colorado USA
• These bacteria are called resistant because they
develop an ability to resist the effects of some 14
antibiotics. 12 • Bacterial
10 - bacterial infections can usually be cured with
antibiotics, either by killing the bacteria or
stopping their growth
Is antibiotic resistance a 4
- recovery from some bacterial infections can
happen within the same number of days,
serious problem? 2 even without antibiotics.
1955 1965 1975 1985 1995
• Every time antibiotics are used the chance of
bacteria developing resistance increases.
• Different antibiotics are often needed to treat 60
% of patients
• Some resistant bacteria are untreatable.
• Resistance can spread to family members and the 20
• Antibiotic resistance is escalating as society increases 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18
antibiotic use. Days with cough
• Antibiotics are becoming less effective at fighting No antibiotics
infections. With antibiotics