WARNING: Antibiotics don’t work for viruses like colds and the flu.

[PDF version - 1MB]

Using them for viruses will not make you feel better or get back to work faster.

Antibiotics are strong medicines. Keep them that way. Prevent antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotics don’t fight viruses – they fight bacteria. Using antibiotics for viruses can put you at risk of getting a bacterial infection that is resistant to antibiotic treatment. Talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider about antibiotics, visit www.cdc.gov/getsmart, or call 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) to learn more.

Taking antibiotics for viral infections such as a cold, a cough, or the flu will NOT:

  • Cure the infection

  • Keep other people from catching it

  • Help you feel better


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Food and Drug Administration

Page Last Updated: 12/12/2014
Note: If you need help accessing information in different file formats, see Instructions for Downloading Viewers and Players.
Language Assistance Available: Español | 繁體中文 | Tiếng Việt | 한국어 | Tagalog | Русский | العربية | Kreyòl Ayisyen | Français | Polski | Português | Italiano | Deutsch | 日本語 | فارسی | English