Antibiotics awareness: save them for when they are really needed

As the weather gets colder, viruses such as flu and cold love this time of year, and it is believed that this year we will be more susceptible to colds and other bugs going around.
Three people sat waiting in a pharmacy

Your local NHS is working together to help tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance and is supporting the national Keep Antibiotics Working campaign during November to remind people that we need to save antibiotics for when they are really needed.

Antibiotics are used to fight bacterial infections, unfortunately, antibiotic resistance is a big threat to all of us. The bacteria that cause infections are becoming resistant to antibiotics, put simply the medicine we rely on doesn’t work as well as it used to because the bugs are getting used to them and adapting.

There are things we can all do to help combat antibiotic resistance. 

You may be tempted to ask your GP for antibiotics to help get over the flu or cold – but they do not work on viruses so please don’t demand to have them.

Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections, so it’s important you use the right medication and listen to the advice of a medical professional.

Only take antibiotics when you really need them and when advised to by your GP.

Find out more

If you are prescribed antibiotics you should take the full course or as advised by a medical professional.

Do not keep leftover antibiotics and don’t use them at a later date – you might feel unwell but you might not have a bacterial infection – they might not work, you might be treating the wrong kind of infection and you could develop resistance to antibiotics for when you really need them.

Do not give your antibiotics to anyone else. A family member or friend might be unwell, but they might not have a bacterial infection. They may share similar symptoms to you when you were prescribed them but they might have a different condition that needs other medication.

Remember that cold, flu viruses and stomach viruses, like norovirus, can’t be treated with antibiotics – they usually get better with rest, fluids and over-the-counter remedies.

Seek advice

For more information about antibiotics resistance