Infographic – Do I need antibiotics?

Date published: 
08 November 2018
Last updated: 
Image type: 

Antibiotics only work against infections caused by bacteria. They will not work against infections caused by viruses.

Antibiotics are often used to treat bacterial infections, such as:

  • whooping cough
  • strep throat
  • urinary tract infection

Antibiotics are sometimes used to treat infections, such as:

  • sinus infection
  • middle ear infection

Antibiotics make no difference to viral infections, such as:

  • colds and flu
  • sore throat
  • bronchitis/chest cold

Using antibiotics when you don’t need them:

  • can give you side effects (like an upset stomach, diarrhoea, rash) without making you better
  • can cause the bacteria in your body to become resistant to antibiotics
  • might make treating serious infections difficult in the future

Ask your health professional about how best to treat your symptoms if you do not need antibiotics. 

Always consult your health professional if you are worried about your health.