What are Antibiotics?


What are antibiotics?

Antibiotics are a type of medicine that stops the growth or kills bacteria in the body. There are many different types of antibiotics that fight bacterial infections. Antibiotics are a very powerful type of medicine that is almost only available by prescription. Some antibiotic creams are available over the counter.

 When should you take antibiotics?

Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections because it is bacteria causing the infection that is making you sick. Antibiotics treat serious infections like pneumonia and sepsis, as well as other infections caused by bacteria.

You should only take antibiotics that are prescribed to you by a profession health provider. Take the antibiotics exactly as they are prescribed and for the entire length of time you are instructed. Do not take antibiotics that are not prescribed to you.

Do antibiotics help cure the flu or the common cold?

Antibiotics will not help your body fight off the flu or the common cold. The flu, or influenza, and common cold are caused by viruses. Antibiotics do not treat viruses. Click here to learn more.

Do antibiotics help cure bronchitis?

A virus usually causes bronchitis, so, in most cases, an antibiotic will not help cure bronchitis. If you think you may have bronchitis, schedule a visit with your primary care provider for advice on how to best take care of yourself while your body fights off the virus over the course of two to three weeks.

How do I know if I need an antibiotic?

Only a healthcare provider can help determine if an antibiotic would be appropriate for you. Some bacterial infections will get better on their own and don’t require an antibiotic. Schedule and appointment with your primary care provider if you are not feeling well.


Sources:,, Learn.Genetics University of Utah,, Michigan Medicine: University of Michigan