Antibiotic resistance is a serious global health problem that occurs when bacteria develop the ability to resist the effects of an antibiotic. This can happen through natural selection, or through the transfer of resistance genes from one bacterium to another. Antibiotic resistance can make infections difficult to treat and can lead to more serious illnesses, longer hospital stays, and higher healthcare costs. It is important to be aware of the problem of antibiotic resistance and to take steps to prevent its spread.

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in ways that allow them to fight off antibiotics. Bacteria are tiny organisms that live in the body and can cause illness. Antibiotics are medicines used to kill or slow the growth of bacteria. Antibiotics are used to treat many kinds of infections, including sore throats, ears, and pneumonia infections. Antibiotic resistance is a serious public health problem. It can affect anyone who is taking antibiotics. Bacteria that cause disease may change so that antibiotics no longer work against them. If this happens to a person taking antibiotics, their illness will not improve with antibiotic treatment. Antibiotic resistance can cause infections that are more difficult to treat and may be life-threatening.

What is the CDC doing about antibiotic resistance?

CDC is working with members of the public health community, consumer groups, and the food industry to reduce antibiotic resistance caused by the overuse of antibiotics in food-producing animals. The goal is to achieve a significant reduction in the use of medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals. How can I help? You can help by practicing the 3 R’s:

1. Reduce – Avoid overusing antibiotics.

2. Resist – When you have been prescribed an antibiotic, finish all of your medicine even if you feel better.

3. Recycle – When you have been prescribed an antibiotic, ask your healthcare professional if there are other ways to treat the infection. Some infections will get better on their own without treatment with antibiotics.

Antibiotics can also be harmful to your health when not used correctly. Be sure to read and follow the instructions on your prescription label. If you are not sure how long to take antibiotics, talk with your healthcare professional. Antibiotics are used to treat a variety of infections caused by bacteria, such as acne, urinary tract infections, ear infections, and blood infections. They are also used to treat certain sexually transmitted diseases.

Bacteria Come Back – Many times, when you stop taking antibiotics, the bacteria that caused your infection will start to grow again. If this happens and you have not completely gotten better, call your healthcare professional right away.

Side Effects – Antibiotics can cause side effects. These side effects may be mild, such as nausea, or they may be severe, such as allergic reactions. If you have questions about possible side effects, talk with your healthcare professional.

Antibiotics Are Not Always the Answer – Antibiotics are often prescribed for infections that are not caused by bacteria, such as colds and flu. They may help you get better more quickly, but they will not kill viruses.

About Rebound – If you stop taking an antibiotic too soon, the germ may start to grow again. This is called rebound. It can lead to a more serious infection and could be life-threatening. Tell your healthcare professional how you are feeling. For example, if you feel feverish, have chills, or have to go to the bathroom more than usual, call your healthcare professional right away.

Trouble Sleeping? – Antibiotics can cause a change in your sleep schedule. In fact, some antibiotics are used to help people sleep better. If you have trouble sleeping after taking an antibiotic, talk with your healthcare professional.

Rarely, antibiotics may cause a skin rash. If this happens, call your healthcare professional.

The most common side effect of antibiotics is diarrhea. Diarrhea is a sign that your antibiotic isn’t working as well as it should. If you have any concerns, talk with your healthcare professional. Here are some of the reasons you should call your healthcare professional: If the symptoms don’t go away or get worse after taking this medicine for a few days, or if they return after they’ve gone away. If you have diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days.

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