Antibiotics – When They Do or Don’t Work, and Safe Usage

Antibiotics are a group of powerful medications used to treat infections, like bacterial and fungal infections and some parasites.

Antibiotics Cannot Treat Every Infection

Antibiotics do not work against viruses. Your health care provider will know which sicknesses can be treated by antibiotics and which cannot. Do not take antibiotics without a prescription.

Antibiotics May Work For:

  • Strep Throat
  • Ear Infections
  • Sinus Infections

Antibiotics Do Not Work For:

  • Colds
  • Flu (Influenza)

Always Finish Your Antibiotics Prescription

Always follow the instructions of your health care provider while taking medication. Once you start taking antibiotics you must finish your prescription, even if you start to feel better after taking the medication for a few days.

Bacterial Resistance

Antibiotics fight infections by either killing bacteria or stopping bacteria from growing. If you take antibiotics too often or incorrectly some bacteria could survive or get stronger than before.

These stronger bacteria are called “resistant” because they resist antibiotics. Sometimes the resistant bacteria must be treated in the hospital with strong intravenous medication (through an IV), and a few kinds of resistant bacteria are untreatable.


The best thing for your body is to stay healthy so that you do not have to use antibiotics. You can prevent bacterial infections by following good hygiene habits. One simple rule is to wash your hands well with soap and water after going to the bathroom and every time before eating.

 Used with permission from the Community Health Association of Mountain/Plains States (CHAMPS)