Antibiotics are powerful drugs for fighting infections caused by bacteria.

Antibiotics have saved millions of lives over the past 50 years, common ones are penicillin and amoxycillin.

They aren’t a ‘magic cure’ for all infections because they only work on bacteria NOT on viruses. Viruses cause colds, flu and most sore throats.

Doctors will not give you antibiotics unless you really need them. This is because they have some side effects, and if we overuse them bacteria learn ways of fighting them. This is called RESISTANCE and means that current antibiotics could become useless and severe bacterial infections, for instance meningitis, become impossible to treat.

If you have a cold, flu or sore throat, please don’t pressurise your GP into giving you antibiotics. Go and see the local pharmacist who is just the person to sort out your sniffly nose and muggy head!

How to take

  • Take them regularly
  • Finish the course even if you feel better
  • Remember some antibiotics make the oral contraceptive pill less effective
  • If the bottle says ‘take on an empty stomach’ this is because the tablet will stick to the food instead of you so you won’t get the full benefit.

Page updated: 14 February, 2022