When shouldn’t I take antibiotics?

Antibiotics should only be used if you have a bacterial infection. Common conditions treated with antibiotics include:

Otitis media:
infection of the middle ear. 

Streptococcal tonsillitis: infection of the tonsils with the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes. 

Pneumonia: infection of the lungs. 

Meningitis: infection of the membrane lining the brain. 

Many viral infections can give similar symptoms of bacterial infections. The common cold, for example, can mimic conditions like pneumonia, otitis and tonsillitis with symptoms like cough, fever and a sore throat. As such, antibiotics are often prescribed unnecessarily.

If you don’t have a bacterial infection, there’s no need to take an antibiotic. If you are in doubt, consult your doctor.


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