Bacteria evolve to overcome the effects of antibiotics. The risk of this occurring increases if antibiotics are used but not needed, for example in viral infections such as the common cold and the flu. Many people do not realise that bronchitis, sinusitis, laryngitis and gastroenteritis are also usually viral.
Bacterial resistance can affect hospitals and communities (many people have heard of the super-bug MRSA); resistance can also develop in an individual, making them less likely to respond to a particular antibiotic in the future.
It is important that we protect ourselves and our community so that people with serious bacterial infections can access effective treatment: don’t use antibiotics to treat viral illnesses; don’t use antibiotics to prevent viral illnesses turning bacterial; when prescribed antibiotics, take the recommended dose at the recommended interval; don’t take somebody else’s antibiotics; and reduce the risk of infections by stopping smoking, getting vaccinated, staying at home if you are sick, washing your hands regularly, and covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing.