Promoting and protecting the health and safety of all Idahoans

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotics are powerful medicines that fight bacterial infections. Used properly, antibiotics can save lives. They either kill bacteria or keep them from reproducing. Your body's natural defenses can usually take it from there.

Antibiotics do not fight infections caused by viruses, such as:

  • Colds
  • Flu
  • Most coughs and bronchitis
  • Sore throats, unless caused by strep

If a virus is making you sick, taking antibiotics may do more harm than good. Using antibiotics when you don't need them, or not using them properly, can add to antibiotic resistance. This happens when bacteria change and become able to resist the effects of an antibiotic.

When you take antibiotics, follow the directions carefully. It is important to finish your medicine even if you feel better. If you stop treatment too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect you. Do not save antibiotics for later or use someone else's prescription.

Healthcare associated infections (HAI) may also be caused by resistant bacteria. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 20 hospitalized patients develop and HAI. Treatment of HAIs can be difficult and may last for years, especially when the organism is resistant to multiple antibiotics. In addition to the human burden, excess costs are incurred across the health care system and many patients and payors are no longer willing to accept these avoidable costs. Click here for more information on Healthcare Associated Infections.