Skip main navigation

Background: Using antibiotics responsibly

Article discussing how to use antibiotics responsibly, with an external video and link to becoming an Antibiotic Guardian.

Links to activities: antibiotics scenarios.

Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them puts you and your family at risk. To help keep antibiotics working you are urged to always take your doctor or nurse’s advice on antibiotics.

Remember that:

  • Antibiotics are life-saving in cases of bacterial infections; however most common infections are viral and will not get better with antibiotics.
  • Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can remain in the body for a long time (sometimes years) after taking antibiotics.
  • Common side-effects when taking antibiotics include thrush, rashes, vomiting, and diarrhoea – talk to your clinician if you are worried about this.
  • Keep antibiotics working; only take them when advised by a health professional, and take antibiotics exactly as prescribed, even if you start to feel better before the course is finished. This way they are more likely to work if you have another infection in the future.

It is important to only use antibiotics as prescribed by a clinician, because antibiotics are specific for each infection, and the dose is specific for each patient. This means that we should:

  • Not share antibiotics with friends or family.
  • Not purchase antibiotics online or over-the-counter, even though antibiotics can be bought without a prescription in some countries.
  • Always take antibiotics exactly as prescribed, for the number of days stated and at the correct times, e.g. three times a day for seven days.
  • Return any leftover antibiotics to a pharmacy, these can then be disposed of according to pharmacy protocols.

In the video below, Dr Chris van Tulleken, Infectious Diseases Doctor talks through how you can become an Antibiotic Guardian and help protect these vital medicines from becoming obsolete.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Will you be an Antibiotic Guardian?

If you would like to become an Antibiotic Guardian, take a few minutes to choose a simple pledge about how YOU can make better use of antibiotics to keep them working for when you really need them.

Please share your pledge in the comments below and feel free to discuss with other learners.

In March 2020 e-Bug also launched the Antibiotic Guardian Youth Badge Leader and Volunteer Activity Pack. This new resource summarises some key e-Bug activities for those supporting home-learning or working with small groups of children.

Further reading and case studies

The Antibiotic Guardian website hosts several Patient Stories and videos of how antibiotics have helped individuals.

This article is from the free online

e-Bug Health Educator Training

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now