Antibiotic resources for consumers

Antibiotic resources for consumers

About antibiotics

Antibiotics are medicines used to treat a wide variety of infections or diseases caused by bacteria including:
  • respiratory tract infections (such as whooping cough and pneumonia)
  • urinary tract infections, and
  • skin infections.

If you are prescribed antibiotics, it is important that you follow your health professional’s advice on when, how, and for how long to take them. Read more about how to take your antibiotics on the NPS MedicineWise website.

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria change to protect themselves from an antibiotic. They are then no longer sensitive to that antibiotic. When this happens, antibiotics that previously would have killed the bacteria, or stopped them from multiplying, no longer work. Read more about antibiotic resistance and how to prevent it.

Do you need an antibiotic?

If you have an infection caused by bacteria, your doctor will decide if antibiotics are needed to help you get better. Not all bacterial infections need antibiotic treatment. Many infections clear up by themselves, especially if you are in good health. Read more about whether you need an antibiotic.

Tools, calculators and apps

Take the pledge to fight antibiotic resistance

You can help fight antibiotic resistance — make a promise to help reduce the prescribing of antibiotics for viral infections like colds and flu.

Useful links

Will alcohol affect your antibiotics?

Alcohol can interact with some antibiotics so always ask your doctor or other health professional if you can drink alcohol while taking antibiotics. Learn more about alcohol & antibiotics.

Can antibiotics affect your contraceptive?

The antibiotics rifamipicin & rifabutin will interact with some hormonal contraceptives. Always ask your doctor or health professional for advice about antibiotics & contraceptives.

Side effects of antibiotics

The side effects of antibiotics can include diarrhoea, nausea & vomiting, thrush & allergic reactions. Learn more about antibiotic side effects.

Antibiotics don't kill viruses

Antibiotic medicines do not kill viral infections (such as a cold or flu). Antibiotics only treat infections or diseases caused by bacteria. Learn more about antibiotics and viruses.

Types of antibiotics

There are many different types of antibiotics. The best antibiotic for your infection will depend on what infection you have and the type of bacteria causing it.

Antibiotics for respiratory tract infections

Read all about the antibiotics available to treat respiratory tract infections (RTIs) such as colds, flu, pneumonia & sinusitis.

Antibiotics for urinary tract infections

There are several different types of antibiotics that can be used, if they are needed, to treat urinary tract infections and the best antibiotic for you will depend on which bacteria are causing it.

Coughs, colds and sore throats

Antibiotics aren’t likely to help coughs, colds or sore throats.  Download a factsheet about treating respiratory infections.

Medicines and treatments for a middle ear infection

Middle ear infections usually get better on their own. Children younger than 2 years may need antibiotics. Read more about treatments for a middle ear infection.

Translated information

Read antibiotics information on the NPS MedicineWise website. Download a translated factsheet about antibiotics.


NPS MedicineWise and Tropfest have partnered to encourage creative individuals or groups to help spread a vital health message to Australians that, through misuse and overuse, antibiotics are losing their power.






Last reviewed 02 November 2016