This website is part of the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) network
When should I take antibiotics?Antibiotics are not the solution for infections caused by viruses such as common colds or flu. Antibiotics are effective only against bacterial infections. The correct diagnosis and the decision about whether antibiotics are necessary can only be made by a medical doctor.
Remember: Antibiotics won’t work in the case of cold or flu
How should I take antibiotics?When the doctor has confirmed that antibiotics are necessary, it is very important to take the antibiotics in a responsible manner.
Remember: Take antibiotics responsibly
Why should I take antibiotics responsibly?Wrong or incorrect use of antibiotics may cause the bacteria to become resistant against future treatments. This is a health hazard not just for the person having taken the antibiotics inappropriately but also for anyone else who might catch the resistant bacteria afterwards.
Remember: Keeping antibiotics effective is everybody’s responsibility
References  - Arroll B, Kenealy T. Antibiotics for the common cold and acute purulent rhinitis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD000247. - Fahey T, Stocks N, Thomas T. Systematic review of the treatment of upper respiratory tract infection. Arch Dis Child 1998;79(3):225-30.  - Malhotra-Kumar S, Lammens C, Coenen S, Van Herck K, Goossens H. Effect of azithromycin and clarithromycin therapy on pharyngeal carriage of macrolide-resistant streptococci in healthy volunteers: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Lancet 2007;369(9560):482-90. - Donnan PT, Wei L, Steinke DT, Phillips G, Clarke R, Noone A, Sullivan FM, MacDonald TM, Davey PG. Presence of bacteriuria caused by trimethoprim resistant bacteria in patients prescribed antibiotics: multilevel model with practice and individual patient data. BMJ 2004;328(7451):1297-301.  - London N, Nijsten R, Mertens P, v d Bogaard A, Stobberingh E. Effect of antibiotic therapy on the antibiotic resistance of faecal Escherichia coli in patients attending general practitioners. J Antimicrob Chemother 1994;34(2):239-46.  - Daneman N, McGeer A, Green K, Low DE; for the Toronto Invasive Bacterial Diseases Network. Macrolide resistance in bacteremic pneumococcal disease: implications for patient management. Clin Infect Dis 2006;43(4):432-8.  - Fahey T, Smucny J, Becker L, Glazier R. Antibiotics for acute bronchitis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2004, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD000245.  - Shehab N, Patel PR, Srinivasan A, Budnitz DS. Emergency department visits for antibiotic-associated adverse events. Clin Infect Dis 2008;47:online. DOI: 10.1086/591126.  - Guillemot D, Carbon C, Balkau B, Geslin P, Lecoeur H, Vauzelle-Kervroëdan F, Bouvenot G, Eschwége E. Low dosage and long treatment duration of beta-lactam: risk factors for carriage of penicillin-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae. JAMA 1998;279(5):365-70.  - Grigoryan L, Burgerhof JG, Haaijer-Ruskamp FM, Degener JE, Deschepper R, Monnet DL, Di Matteo A, Scicluna EA, Bara AC, Lundborg CS, Birkin J, on behalf of the SAR group. Is self-medication with antibiotics in Europe driven by prescribed use? J Antimicrob Chemother 2007;59(1):152-6.  - European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System. EARSS Annual Report 2006. Bilthoven, Netherlands: National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, 2007.  - Cohen ML. Epidemiology of drug resistance: implications for a post-antimicrobial era. Science 1992;257(5073):1050-5.  - Austrian R. The pneumococcus at the millennium: not down, not out. J Infect Dis 1999;179 Suppl 2:S338-41.