Keep Antibiotics Working

Taking Antibiotics when you don't need them puts you and your family at risk. Taking antibiotics encourages harmful bacteria that live inside you to become resistant. That means that antibiotics may not work when you really need them. This puts you and your family at risk of a more severe or longer illness. Take your doctor or nurse's advice when it comes to antibiotics. No one likes being sick and it's especially upsetting when your child is ill.


If you or a family member are feeling unwell, have a cold or flu and you haven't been prescribed antibiotics, here are some effective self-care ways to help you feel better:

  • Ask your pharmacist to recommend medicines to help with symptoms or pain.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Make sure you or your child drink enough to avoid feeling thirsty.
  • Fever is a sign the body is fighting the infection and usually gets better by itself in most cases. You can use paracetamol if you or your child are uncomfortable as a result of a fever.
  • Make sure to use a tissue for your nose and wash your hands frequently to avoid spreading your infection to family and friends.

Common illnesses

Here are a few guidelines to help you judge how long some common illnesses and symptoms should last for.

Most people are better by
Earache (middle ear infection)8 days
Sore throat7 - 8 days
Sinusitis (adults only)14 - 21 days
Cold14 days
Cough or bronchitis21 days

If you're not starting to improve by these guide times, contact your GP or call NHS 111.

Antibiotics are needed for serious bacterial infections including:

  • Sepsis
  • Pneumonia
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhoea
  • Meningococcal meningitis

If you're worried, speak to a doctor who will be able to advise you on the best treatment for your symptoms.

Remember never share antibiotics or keep for later use.

For more information on antibiotics go here>>

Download the Keeping Antibiobics Working leaflet HERE >