Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotics don’t work against infections caused by viruses, such as colds and flu.
Taking antibiotics when you don't need them can mean that they won’t work when you do need them for a serious infection. This is called antibiotic resistance. It happens when bacteria are exposed to antibiotics and learn to resist them.
A high rate of antibiotic prescribing is increasing levels of antibiotic resistance.
This is a serious threat to public health. It is compromising our ability to treat infections effectively, so we urgently need to reduce unnecessary antibiotic use.
Very few new types of antibiotics are being developed, which means that we must make sure that the ones we have remain effective against infections for the sake of future generations.