Some infections need antibiotics
There are some infections where antibiotics are the best treatment. It’s important to take antibiotics safely and always follow your doctor, nurse or pharmacist’s advice if you are prescribed antibiotics.
Infections that require antibiotics
Trust your doctor’s advice. They’ll tell you if antibiotics are the right treatment for you. Doctors don’t usually recommend antibiotics for infections like colds, coughs, flu and most ear, nose and throat infections, where they won’t make you get better any faster. If you have generally good health, your body’s immune system can easily fight these infections without antibiotics. Antibiotics are normally only prescribed for more serious infections caused by bacteria like pneumonia, whooping cough, and meningococcal disease. In these situations, antibiotics can be lifesaving.
When should I see a doctor?
If you’re feeling unwell, you should always see your doctor if you have:
- trouble breathing
- chest pain
- a skin rash
- a severe headache, stiff neck, or are sensitive to light.
- a painful cough.
If your child has a cold or the flu and is not improving, refusing food or drinks, is very irritable, or sleepy, or has a fever, sore ears, a cough, or a sore throat, it’s a good idea to see your doctor.
If you are at all worried about your condition:
- Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist
- Call Healthline free 24 hours a day: 0800 611 116
In an emergency, visit your local hospital or call 111.
Taking antibiotics safely
Safe use of all medicines, including antibiotics, is very important. Here’s how to take antibiotics safely.
Only the person prescribed the antibiotics (whose name is on the label) should use the antibiotics. Read the label every time you give or take the medicine.
- who the medicine is for
- when to use it
- how much to use
- how to use it
- how long to use it for.
For liquid antibiotics:
- shake the bottle well before each dose
- use a proper medicine measure:
- a dropper or oral syringe for a baby
- a measuring spoon or a medicine measuring cup for an older child or adult.
Tips for giving medicine to kids
Getting children to take medicine is sometimes challenging. But with a little creativity, parents and caregivers can make it an easier experience for themselves as well as their children. Here are some practical and helpful tips to help babies, toddlers and children take different kinds of medicine.
Always take your doctor, nurse or pharmacist’s advice on taking antibiotics.
More help & information
Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for free advice from a trained registered nurse, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In an emergency visit your local hospital or call 111.
Last updated: 9 August 2018