Do's and Don'ts of Antibiotics

Dec. 13, 2022

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have found that at least 28% of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary and are most often misprescribed for common colds, viral sore throats, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections. Doctors and health care providers can prescribe antibiotics to help the immune system overcome bacterial infections such as strep throat, whooping cough, and some skin and ear infections. However, antibiotics are commonly misused when taken for viral infections instead of bacterial infections, which can lead to antibiotic resistance and make the medication less effective in treating bacterial infections. 

Everyone has a role to play in reducing the potential for antibiotic resistance! To avoid misusing antibiotics, read through the following do’s and don’ts:


  • Ask your healthcare provider if there are alternatives to antibiotics, such as over-the-counter pain relievers or drinking more fluids
  • Avoid infections by washing your hands frequently 
  • Take antibiotics only if you need them and they have been prescribed by a medical provider
  • Take the full prescription whenever you are prescribed antibiotics



  • Do not pressure your healthcare provider to prescribe antibiotics when you are feeling sick
  • Do not take antibiotics for a viral infection. Antibiotics will not cure a cold, flu, most sore throats, and sinus infections. 

Refer to this table when you’re unsure if you should take antibiotics for your infection. Remember, viruses, such as a common cold, sore throat, COVID-19, and the flu, cannot be cured with antibiotics!