Safe medication use

Various medications scattered across table.

Taking an antibiotic depends on the kind of infection you have. Antibiotics are medications prescribed to treat bacterial infections, not viruses. Common viruses that do not benefit from antibiotic treatment include:

  • cold
  • flu (influenza)
  • bronchitis
  • most coughs
  • most sore throats
  • some ear infections
  • some sinus infections
  • stomach flu (viral gastroenteritis)

Antibiotics work when taken as prescribed for a current infection. When an antibiotic is not prescribed, ask your PCP for tips on how to relieve symptoms and feel better.

Visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for guidelines about the safe disposal of unused medicines. Find a disposal location.
Misuse of prescription narcotic pain killers and heroin addiction are increasing public health issues around the country. Resources, including treatment options, are available. See more information: WebMD – Teen Abuse of Cough and Cold Medicine.
You'll get the best benefits from any of your prescription medication if you take them exactly as prescribed. Here are a few tips:
  • Use your medication only for the symptom of illness for which it was prescribed
  • Do not take someone else's medication or give your medication to someone else
  • Take the proper dose of a medication, never more or less unless directed by your PCP to do so
Questions to ask when prescribed medications:
  • Why you need the medication
  • How and when to take it
  • How to store it
  • What might happen if you don't take it as prescribed