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Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

How do bacteria become resistant?

Antibiotic medicines kill bacteria. When antibiotics are not used correctly, they may not kill all of the bacteria. The bacteria that an antibiotic does not kill can grow stronger. The antibiotic may not be able to kill the new bacteria. Bacteria can become resistant when the wrong type, wrong dose, or wrong treatment length of antibiotic is used. They can also become resistant to more than one type of antibiotic. This has made it harder to cure infections that used to be easily treated.

What increases my risk for infection with antibiotic-resistant bacteria?

  • A long stay in the hospital or long-term care facility
  • Use of antibiotics often, or recent antibiotic treatment
  • A medical condition that needs to be treated with several other medicines
  • A tube or line in your body, such as an IV or catheter
  • A weak immune system

How can I help prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria?

  • Wash your hands often with soap and hot water. Carry hand sanitizer that contains alcohol with you. You can use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  • Understand that antibiotics cannot cure many common illnesses. Your healthcare provider may not order antibiotics to treat you or your child. Antibiotics are not usually needed to treat many colds and ear infections.
  • Always take antibiotics exactly as ordered by your healthcare provider. Ask when you should start to feel better. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your healthcare provider. Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed.
  • Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.

Further information

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    1600 Clifton Road
    Atlanta , GA 30333
    Phone: 1- 800 - 232-4636
    Web Address:

When should I call my doctor?

  • You still have a fever, even after 3 days of antibiotic treatment.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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