Antibiotics save lives and are important tools for treating a range of common and serious infections. However, antibiotics are often used when they should not, which can cause them to stop working.

Up to 50 percent of all prescribed antibiotics are not needed or are not effective as prescribed. In the United States, at least 2 million people each year become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria and at least 23,000 die.

"Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria no longer respond to the drugs that kill them," said Illinois Health Ministry director Nirav D. Shah. "Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are much deadlier and more difficult to treat. Taking antibiotics when they are not needed can cause side effects such as rash, nausea, diarrhea, fungal infections and dizziness. It can also lead to antibiotic resistance, one of the most pressing threats to public health. "

To prevent the misuse of antibiotics, IDPH conducts the nationwide campaign "Precious Drugs & Scary Bugs" to promote the use of antibiotics in medical practices. During the Antibiotic Week, IDPH encourages people to inform themselves, their families and their communities about antibiotic resistance. Improving the way healthcare providers prescribe antibiotics and how people use them will help combat antibiotic resistance. The prevention of antibiotic resistance will help ensure that these life-saving medicines will continue to work in the future.

Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such. For example, viruses that cause colds, flu or runny nose, even if the mucus is thick, yellow or green. Taking antibiotics will not make you feel better if you have a virus. Antibiotics are only needed to treat infections caused by bacteria, but some bacterial infections also become better without antibiotics, including many sinus infections and some ear infections.

How to help avoid antibiotic resistance:

• Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can take other steps to make you feel better without antibiotics.

• Do not ask about antibiotics if your doctor thinks you do not need them.

• Take the antibiotics exactly as your doctor tells you.

• Stay up to date on the recommended vaccines to avoid disease.

• Wash your hands regularly to stop the spread of the disease.

Follow @CDCgov and @IDPH on antibiotic resistance for more updates. Further information about the Antibiotic Awareness Week can be found here on-line,

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