Everyone can take action to improve antibiotic prescribing and antibiotic use:

Clinicians can improve prescribing practices. CDC estimates that more than half of the antibiotics given for upper respiratory infections and nearly a third of antibiotics used in hospitals are prescribed inappropriately. Antibiotics can only treat illnesses caused by bacteria. They don’t treat viral illnesses like the common cold, the flu, most sore throats, bronchitis and many sinus and ear infections.

Patients can get smart about antibiotics. Learn the 6 smart facts about antibiotic use. CDC recommends that antibiotics be taken as prescribed. They should not be shared or saved for the next illness, and doses should not be skipped or stopped unless instructed by a clinician. Rather than pressuring your healthcare provider to prescribe antibiotics, ask what steps you can take to feel better.

Prevent infections by practicing good hand hygiene. CDC recommends washing your hands under running water with soap for 15 seconds, or rubbing them with an alcohol-based hand rub and letting them dry thoroughly.

Protect yourself. Get vaccinated against the flu and other vaccine-preventable infections to avoid complications or the need for antibiotics in the first place.