Are You Overusing Antibiotics?

Overuse of antibiotics is one of the main causes of antibiotic resistance, a major public health threat in the United States.

In an effort to combat the problem, the eighth annual “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week” is being sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other partners from Nov. 16-22.

“All use of antibiotics leads, eventually, to resistant bacteria, where those antibiotics just won’t work anymore. And overuse — unnecessary use for viruses or colds — leads to resistance that much faster,” said Dr. Saul Hymes, a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, in Stony Brook, N.Y.

People must understand that antibiotics cure bacterial infections, not viral infections such as colds or the flu, he said in a hospital news release.

In most cases, symptoms of upper respiratory infections — including sore throats, ear and sinus infections, colds and bronchitis — can be eased by getting plenty of rest; drinking enough fluids; avoiding smoking and secondhand smoke; and taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve pain or fever.