About antibiotic resistance
The overuse of antibiotics has made them less effective and has led to the emergence of “superbugs”. Bacteria are becoming resistant to the antibiotics we take and common antibiotics no longer work against these resistant bacteria.
If we don’t take antibiotics correctly today, we make it more likely they will no longer work in the future.
This means we will need more expensive medicines. Illness and treatment will take longer, and may need a trip to hospital. Without effective antibiotics to prevent and treat infections, organ transplants, chemotherapy and surgeries such as Caesarean sections will become more dangerous.
It might seem hard to imagine how this could affect us, especially if we are fit and well. But the danger is that antibiotic treatments may no longer work when we need them. We have all seen how global health risks can affect our daily lives.
If we don’t act now, antibiotic resistance could impact our daily life for years to come.
Small changes in how we use antibiotics today can make a difference to the future of the life-saving treatments that need them.
We don’t always need antibiotics. Let’s keep them working for when we do.
Frequently asked questions
To find the answers to some common questions, take a look at our FAQs.See all FAQs
What’s the difference between bacteria and viruses?
Bacteria are tiny living things that get nutrients from their environment. Most bacteria that live in your body are good. They help digest food, give nutrients and protect you against harmful germs. Sometimes harmful bacteria can get into your body and cause you to feel unwell.
Common infections caused by bacteria are some sore throats and UTIs like cystitis. Some infections caused by bacteria need to be treated with antibiotics.
Viruses are much smaller than bacteria and they are different as, unlike bacteria, most viruses cause illness. A viral infection begins when a virus attacks healthy cells in your body. Once there it takes over, creating more viruses like itself. Illnesses caused by viruses include common colds, chicken pox and coronavirus.
How important is it that I finish the course of antibiotics that I’ve been prescribed?
Even if you start to feel better after a few days, it is really important you complete the course of antibiotics exactly as your doctor or other healthcare professional advised.
If you don’t take the full course of antibiotics, there’s a chance that the bacteria is not completely killed off. This means the infection can return, and it might be worse the second time around.
At the same time, the surviving bacteria in your system might be able to learn how to resist and fight back against what is supposed to kill it. If you don’t use the full course of antibiotics to kill off the bacteria completely, the chances are increased that bacteria develops antibiotic resistance.
As bacteria develop antibiotic resistance, infections will become harder to treat. Operations and other treatments will become more dangerous.
A simple paper cut could become deadly.
Because of our overuse and reliance on antibiotics for non-life threatening infections we could be facing a world where antibiotics no longer work and simple everyday infections become life-threating. It’s time to take antibiotics resistance seriously.
If you are ever worried that your symptoms might be something more severe then you can visit 111.nhs.uk or call NHS 111.