Antibiotic resistant bacteria are germs that cannot be killed by antibiotics. These germs have mutated (changed) over time, making the medicine that used to kill them unable to kill them anymore. Antibiotics are a type of medicine that are used to kill the germs that cause some illnesses. Almost all bacteria in the world are becoming resistant to antibiotics. This can be very dangerous. If you develop an infection, there may be no medicine left to treat your illness.
Caregivers may be giving antibiotics to you when you have an illness caused by a virus. Antibiotics cannot treat or cure an illness caused by a virus. A virus usually causes illnesses like a cold, the flu, and most sore throats. Caregivers and patients should know that most viral illnesses go away in time without using an antibiotic. Your caregiver should not give you antibiotic medicine if you do not need it.
Powerful antibiotics are being ordered for patients to treat less serious illnesses. There are some new, strong antibiotics available to treat very bad infections. A patient may only need to take the medicine for a few days, instead of a week or longer. The medicine may need to be taken less often during the day. Because of these advantages, some caregivers may order these antibiotics to treat less serious illnesses. The following are reasons why strong antibiotics should not be used to treat less serious illnesses. The strong antibiotics are meant for severe (very bad) infections only. When caregivers use this medicine for less severe or viral illnesses, bacteria may multiply and become resistant to the medicine. If you later develop a bad infection, the medicine may not work for you. Your illness may be very hard for caregivers to treat, and you may get very ill.
The strong antibiotics may only kill certain types of germs. Different germs than what the strong medicines kill may have caused your illness. The antibiotics may not work to kill the germs causing your illness. Taking this medicine may also allow bacteria to change and multiply. Your illness may get worse instead of better.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Do ask for written information about the medicine your caregiver may give you.
- Do call your caregiver right away if you notice a rash, swelling, or you have trouble breathing after taking your medicine.
- Do ask your caregiver if medicine will help you.
- Do follow your caregivers instructions on how to feel better if you have an illness.
- Do take your antibiotic medicine as your caregiver tells you to. Take it until it is all gone, even if you feel better.
- Do not ask for a certain type of medicine or brand name.
- Do not demand that your caregiver give you an antibiotic if you do not need one.
- Do not save any of your medicine for another time.
- Do not give your medicine to anyone else or take medicine that is for someone else.