Antibiotics are medicines used to treat some bacterial infections. They work by killing bacteria or stopping them from growing.

You may need antibiotics if you have an infection that is unlikely to go away without them. In this case, your doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics for you.

Antibiotics do not work for viral infections such as colds and flu, and most coughs and sore throats.

Antibiotic resistance is a big problem. Taking antibiotics when you do not need them can mean they will not work for you in the future.

Always take antibiotics the way it says on the packet or the way you were told by your health professional.


Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 22 November 2019
Next review due: 22 November 2022