November 12 – 18, 2018 is U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week. This annual week-long observance raises awareness of the threat of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic prescribing. This week helps increase awareness of improving appropriate use of antibiotics in communities, in healthcare facilities, and even on the farm!

Antibiotics save lives, and are critical tools for treating a number of common and more serious infections, such as those that can lead to sepsis. Improving the way healthcare professionals prescribe antibiotics, and the way we take antibiotics, helps keep us healthy now, helps fight antibiotic resistance, and ensures that these lifesaving drugs will be available for future generations.

When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help you, and the side effects could still hurt you. Here are seven facts you should know to Be Antibiotics Aware:

1. Antibiotics save lives. When a patient needs antibiotics, the benefits usually outweigh the risks of side effects or antibiotic resistance.
2. Antibiotics aren’t always the answer. Everyone can help improve antibiotic prescribing and use.
3. Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as those that cause colds, flu, bronchitis, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow, or green.
4. Antibiotics are only needed for treating infections caused by bacteria, but even some bacterial infections get better without antibiotics, including many sinus infections and some ear infections.
5. Antibiotics will not make you feel better if you have a virus. Respiratory viruses usually go away in a week or two without treatment. Ask your healthcare professional about the best way to feel better while your body fights off the virus.
6. If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about your antibiotics, or if you develop any side effects, especially diarrhea, since that could be a Clostridium difficile infection (also called C. difficile or C. diff), which needs to be treated.
7. Antibiotics are critical tools for treating a number of common infections, such as pneumonia, and for life-threatening conditions including sepsis.

The ADHS Healthcare-Associated Infection Program is supporting 2018 Antibiotic Awareness Week by joining the global Twitter chat, distributing CDC Be Antibiotics Aware Toolkit and raising awareness of antibiotic resistance. Healthcare facilities are encouraged to join our efforts by sharing their experiences in the global Twitter chat. For additional information about when antibiotics are appropriate, please visit CDC website.