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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 become able to resist the effects of an antibiotic.

Using antibiotics can lead to resistance. Each time you take antibiotics, sensitive bacteria are killed. But resistant germs may be left to grow and multiply. They can spread to other people. They can also cause infections that certain antibiotics cannot cure. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one example. It causes infections that are resistant to several common antibiotics.

To help prevent antibiotic resistance

  • Don’t use antibiotics for viruses like colds or flu. Antibiotics don’t work on viruses.
  • Don’t pressure your doctor 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.
  • Don’t save antibiotics for later or use someone else’s prescription.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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