Stop Antibiotic Misuse in Minnesota
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 Antibiotic Facts

Appropriate Use of Antibiotics

Are antibiotics safe?
When are antibiotics needed?
When my child starts feeling better can he/she stop taking the antibiotic?
Can I save antibiotics for the next time my child is sick?
How do I safely dispose of unused or expired antibiotics?

  • Are antibiotics safe?
    Yes.
    • Antibiotics taken as prescribed are generally safe and effective at combating bacterial infections.
    • Some people may be allergic to certain antibiotics, but can usually take other types of antibiotics if needed.
    • All medications can have side effects, so be sure to ask your child’s health care provider about potential side effects and how to manage them.

  • When are antibiotics needed?
    • Your child should take antibiotics - the complete prescription - when his/her health care provider prescribes them for a bacterial infection.
    • Anti-bacterial drugs are needed when your child has an infection caused by a bacteria.
    • These drugs cannot fight infections caused by viruses.

  • When my child starts feeling better can he/she stop taking the antibiotic?
    No.
    • Not before you complete all the medication prescribed.
    • The prescription is written to cover the time needed for your body to completely kill the bacteria.
    • If you stop taking the antibiotic early, the bacteria that are still alive are more likely to be resistant and could restart the infection - or pass it on to others.

  • Can I save antibiotics for the next time my child is sick?
    No.
    • Taking incomplete doses of antibiotics will not make you better and will increase your risk for developing resistant bacteria in the future.
    • Also, your next illness may be caused by a virus instead of a bacteria - and antibiotics won’t help.

  • How do I safely dispose of unused or expired antibiotics?
    • Expired or unused medications are often disposed of by flushing them down the toilet or a drain. This can cause pollution in wastewater, causing adverse effects to fish and other aquatic wildlife and the potential for unintentional human exposure to chemicals in medications if this water is reused.