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Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria (e.g. strep throat, some sinus infections, urinary tract infections). They will not treat any illness caused by a virus (e.g. a cold, the flu, coughs and sore throats). Using antibiotics unnecessarily or not according to the directions could allow your body to develop a resistant strain of bacteria. That means that the bacteria will change in response to a drug and become much more difficult to kill. And that means you could be limiting your treatment options.

If you get a prescription to an antibiotic, read the directions and take the medicine as prescribed. That means no skipping, forgetting, or cutting short. Ask your provider what your “course” for the antibiotic is. A course is how long you need to take the medicine, and it is usually accomplished by finishing your prescription. Even if you feel better, you still need to take your antibiotic. Cutting your course short could contribute to a resistant strain of bacteria. Sometimes you might be able to find an antibiotic without a prescription, either on the web or from a friend. This is a bad idea. Remember that antibiotics are serious medications that should only be prescribed by a provider in appropriate situations.

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Over-the-Counter Remedies