Antibiotics

Antibiotics are medications that kill bacteria. Bacteria are organisms that cause infections.

A health professional will choose an antibiotic to treat an illness based on:

  • Whether taking an antibiotic will reduce the length or severity of the illness.
  • The person's age. (For example, some antibiotics are not safe for children.)
  • The symptoms.
  • Other medical problems that the person may have.
  • The severity of the illness.
  • How likely it is that a certain antibiotic will kill the bacteria believed to be causing the symptoms.
  • Whether the person is allergic to any antibiotics.
  • Whether a woman is pregnant.

Last Updated: November 17, 2008

Author: Bets Davis, MFA

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine

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