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Reading 13º: Antibiotics

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Antibiotics are important medicines. They help you fight infections that are caused by bacteria. Colds, coughs and sore throats can not be cured by antibiotics as they are caused by viruses, so an antibiotic won't help.

Bacteria's are clever, they find ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic. They become 'resistant' so that the antibiotic does not work. The more we use an antibiotic, the more likely it is that bacteria will become resistant to it.

What can we do? We can't stop the antibiotic becoming resistant but we can do a lot to prevent this from happening. We must use antibiotics carefully:

1. Only use an antibiotic if you really need to.

2. Don't take an antibiotic if you have a cold or sore throat.

3. Carry out the full course of antibiotics i.e. Dont stop taking them when you start to feel better. Finish the packet!

Remember - Antibiotics are not always the answer. Common colds, coughs or sore throats can be helped by taking paracetamol, or a cold remedy from the Chemist. Ask your pharmacist for advice.

So when do I use an antibiotic? Your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic when you need one, for example, for a kidney infection or pneumonia. Antibiotics are able to save lives. Therefore by not using them unnecessarily, they are more likely to work when we need them.

When you take an antibiotic it is very important that you take them as prescribed and finish the course. Antibiotic resistance is more likely to develop if antibiotics are taken intermittently, for example, just when you remember, or in too low a dose.


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