Antibiotic Resistance - Questions & Answers

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Antibiotics Aren't Always The Answer (CDC Video)

Antibiotics treat certain infections caused by bacteria. They do not treat viruses like the cold or flu. When they are not needed, antibiotics won’t help you, and the side effects could still hurt you.

What are bacteria?

Bacteria are single-celled organisms found all over the inside and outside of our bodies. Many bacteria are not harmful. In fact, some are actually helpful, including the majority of bacteria that live in our intestines (guts). However, disease-causing bacteria can cause illnesses such as strep throat. 

What are viruses?

Viruses are microbes that are even smaller than bacteria that cannot survive outside the body’s cells. They cause illness by invading healthy cells.

What is an antibiotic?

An antibiotic is a type of drug that kills or stops the growth of bacteria. Antibiotics are drugs used to treat bacterial infections. They are part of a larger group of drugs known as antimicrobials. 

What is an antimicrobial?

An antimicrobial is a type of drug that kills or stops the growth of microbes, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance means bacteria have changed to resist the killing effects of an antibiotic. In other words, some antibiotics will no longer be able to kill certain bacteria or they will be less effective at killing them. Once bacteria become resistant, they can continue to multiply causing more harm. Antibiotic – resistant bacteria and infections:

  • are more difficult to treat
  • require more toxic and expensive treatments
  • cause longer hospital stays
  • can spread from person to person making the problem worse​​​​

Why are bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics?

How AR

Overuse and misuse of antibiotics can promote the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Every time a person takes antibiotics, bacteria that antibiotics can still attack are killed, but resistant bacteria are left to grow and multiply. This is how repeated use of antibiotics can increase the number of drug-resistant bacteria.

What can be done to slow antibiotic resistance?

Lowering incorrect and unnecessary antibiotic use will help slow down the spread of resistant bacteria. Ongoing efforts in human and veterinary medicine are needed to lower the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, so that the value of antibiotics is maintained for as long as possible. 


Updated 8/22/2018