Health Encyclopedia

Antibiotics

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are medicines used to kill bacteria that cause infections.

A doctor will choose an antibiotic to treat an illness based on:

  • Whether taking an antibiotic will reduce the length or severity of the illness.
  • Whether the person is allergic to any antibiotics.
  • How likely it is that a certain antibiotic will kill the bacteria believed to be causing the symptoms.
  • The symptoms and the severity of the illness.
  • Other medical problems that the person has.
  • The person's age. (For example, some antibiotics are not safe for children.)
  • Whether a woman is pregnant.

Last Revised: March 10, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Theresa O'Young, PharmD - Clinical Pharmacy

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