In Depth: Antibiotics

How to keep antibiotics working

Antibiotics have saved millions of lives. But in the future they might not work, because all of us — patients and doctors — are using too many antibiotics. There is a lot of pressure to use them, from friends, family, and advertising. When we use an antibiotic, a few bacteria survive — they “resist” the antibiotic and take over and multiply. When this happens, antibiotics don’t work.

Farms, restaurants, and grocery stores play an important role too. Most of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used by the meat industry on animals that aren’t even sick. Consumers Union is working to stop the routine use of antibiotics on healthy livestock.

The materials here explain when you need antibiotics – and when you don’t.

— John Santa, MD, MPH, Medical Director, Consumer Reports Health

Choosing Wisely campaign

Educational resources we created to help patients and doctors discuss appropriate antibiotic use.
Antibiotics: When You Need Them
Antibiotics poster (large)
Antibiotics poster (small)
Antibiotics: Will They Help You or Hurt You?
Antibiotics For Respiratory Illness in Adults
Think Your Child Needs Antibiotics?
Antibiotics for Ear Infection in Children
Antibiotics for Pink Eye
Antibiotics for Respiratory Illness in Children
Antibiotics for Urinary Tract Infections in Older People
Antibiotics for Your Skin
Oral Antibiotics for Ear Infections
Treating Sinusitis

Consumer Reports articles

Information and advice from
America’s Antibiotic Crisis
The Rise of Superbugs
Making the World Safe From Superbugs
How Your Hospital Can Make You Sick
Why You Should Be Worried About Antibiotics
• When You Think You Need Antibiotics But Really Don’t
• Antibiotics: From Medical Miracle to Medical Nightmare
Soothe Your Sore Winter Nose
Antibiotic Misuse Kills Thousands, Harms Millions
Antibiotics For Ear Infections: Often Unnecessary
Got a Sore Throat? Hold the Antibiotics
Get Smart About Antibiotics For Flu Season
Just Say No to Antibiotics for the Cold and Flu
Is it an Allergy or a Sinus Infection?
The Cold Facts About Cold and Flu
Use of Antibiotics on Healthy Animals Must Stop

Best Buy Drugs campaign

Helping you select safe, effective and affordable medicines.
• Five Questions to Ask About a New Drug


Antibiotic Misuse