Keep Antibiotics Working

Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them can be harmful

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.



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

  • asking your pharmacist to recommend medicines to help with symptoms or pain
  • getting plenty of rest
  • making 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.

If you have a cold or flu, make sure to use a tissue for your nose and wash your hands frequently to avoid spreading your infection to family and friends.

When to contact your GP

You should only contact your GP or call 111 if the symptoms of your illness are lasting longer than the average guideline times or you are showing symptoms of serious illness.

You can find out more about these guidelines in the Keep Antibiotics Working leaflet.

Find out more

When antibiotics are needed

Antibiotics are needed for serious bacterial infections including:

For some people with a UTI or impetigo, it might be possible for you to be treated safely and effectively with antibiotics in your community pharmacy without having to contact your GP.

More about antibiotics