URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/antibioticresistance.html

Antibiotic Resistance

Summary

Antibiotics are medicines that fight bacterial infections. Used properly, they can save lives. But there is a growing problem of antibiotic resistance. It happens when bacteria change and resist the effects of an antibiotic. Resistant bacteria may continue to grow and multiply.

Each time you take antibiotics there is a risk that the bacteria will become resistant. Resistant infections can be difficult and sometimes impossible to treat. They can spread to other people. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one example. It causes infections that are resistant to several common antibiotics.

Antibiotic resistance can cause problems. To help prevent antibiotic resistance

  • Don't use antibiotics for viruses like colds or flu. Antibiotics don't work on viruses.
  • Don't ask your health care provider to give you an antibiotic.
  • When you take antibiotics, follow the directions carefully. Finish your medicine even if you feel better. If you stop treatment too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect you.
  • Do not share your antibiotics with others.
  • Don't save antibiotics for later or use someone else's prescription.

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The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.