Antibiotics are used to treator preventsome types of bacterial infection. Theywork by killing bacteria or preventing them fromreproducing and spreading.
Antibioticsaren'teffective against viral infections, such as the Cold , flu , most coughs and sore throats .
Many mild bacterial infections can also be cleared by your immune system without using antibiotics, sothey aren't routinely prescribed.
It's important that antibiotics are prescribed and taken correctly to helpprevent the progression of antibiotic resistance . This is when a strain of bacteria no longer responds to treatment with one or more types of antibiotics.
Antibioticsmay be used to treatbacterial infectionsthat:
People at a high risk of infection may also be given antibiotics as a precaution, known as antibiotic prophylaxis.
If you stop taking an antibiotic part way through a course, the bacteria can become resistant to the antibiotic.
If you forget to take a dose of your antibiotics, take that dose as soon as you remember and then continue to take your course of antibiotics as normal.
Butif it's almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don't take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
There's an increased risk of side effects if you take two doses closer together than recommended.
Accidentally taking one extra dose of your antibiotic is unlikely to cause you any serious harm.
Butit will increase your chances of experiencing side effects, such as pain in your stomach, diarrhoea, and feeling or being sick.
If you accidentally take more than one extra dose of your antibiotic, are worried or experiencing severe side effects, speak to your GP or call NHS 111 as soon as possible.
As with any medication, antibiotics can cause side effects. Most antibiotics don't cause problems if they're used properly and serious side effects are rare.
The most common side effects include:
Some people may have an allergic reaction to antibiotics, especially penicillin and a type called cephalosporins. In very rare cases, this can lead to a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) , which is a medical emergency.
Some antibiotics aren't suitable for people with certain medical conditions, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. You should only ever take antibiotics prescribedfor you never "borrow" them from a friend or family member.
Some antibiotics can also react unpredictably with other medications, such as theoral contraceptive pill and alcohol. It's important to read the information leaflet that comes with your medication carefully and discuss any concerns with your pharmacist or GP.
These are outlined below.
Both the NHS and health organisations across the world are trying to reduce the use of antibiotics, especially for conditions that aren't serious.
The overuse of antibiotics in recent years means they're becoming less effective and has led to the emergence of "superbugs". These are strains of bacteria that have developed resistance to many different types of antibiotics, including:
These types of infections can be serious and challenging to treat, and are becoming an increasing cause of disability and death across the world.
The biggest worry is that new strains of bacteria may emerge that can't be effectively treated by any existing antibiotics.
Read about how you can help prevent the progression of antibiotic resistance .
Antibiotics are used to treat or prevent some types of bacterial infection. They work by killing bacteria or preventing them from reproducing and spreading.
Read about the uses of antibiotics, including treating or preventing some types of bacterial infections
Read about things to consider when taking the six main classes of antibiotics.
The most common side effects of antibiotics affect the digestive system. These occur in around 1 in 10 people.
Antibiotics can sometimes interact with other medicines or substances. This means it can have an effect that is different to what you expected.