When used inappropriately, it can result in serious infections, longer recovery time, and loss of effectiveness for future treatments, due to infections becoming antibiotic-resistant.
Follow your doctor's advice.
Antibiotics are used to prevent
or treat bacterial infections only.
They DO NOT
work on viral infections such as flu or
the common cold.
Antibiotics are not required for viral infections because they DO NOT work on viruses.
Common viral infections include:
HFMD (Hand Foot Mouth Disease)
Viral symptoms usually go away with time and symptomatic relief.
What you should do if you are down with the common cold or flu:
Get plenty of rest
Practice good hygiene habits to prevent the infection
Consult your doctor
if you do not
Antibiotics kill or slow down the growth of bacteria.
Hence, they are required for bacterial infections, such as:
Lung infection (Pneumonia)
Follow your doctor’s advice exactly when taking antibiotics
When your doctor prescribes antibiotics to treat your infection, the benefits outweigh the risks. However, side effects may occur as antibiotics destroy both good and bad bacteria.
Nausea or vomiting
Loss of appetite
Your doctor may then prescribe probiotic tablets along with your antibiotic to maintain and restore good bacteria. If you start developing other symptoms like allergic skin rashes due to the antibiotic or/and your side effects become worrisome, you should consult a
Overuse or misuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance. This reduces the
effectiveness of antibiotics in treating infections when they are really needed. This can
lead to undesirable consequences as illustrated below:
Bacteria in the body become resistant to antibiotics – developing the ability to resist the drugs designed to
Increased medical costs
Complications caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria can increase the length of hospital stay and the cost of
Increased health risks
Without antibiotics that work, illnesses caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria are harder or impossible to treat, and can lead to disability
If left unchecked, it is projected that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) could cause as many
as 10 million deaths worldwide by 2050 - which is higher than death attributed to
diabetes (1.5 million) and cancer (8.2 million).
What is the difference between antibiotics and antimicrobials?
Antibiotics are a specific type of antimicrobial that is used to treat bacterial infections. Meanwhile, antimicrobial is a broad term that includes antibiotics, antivirals, antiparasites, and antifungals which treat infections caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi respectively.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi)
found in people, animals, food and the environment develop resistance and no longer respond to
to kill them.
As a result, antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines become ineffective, making infections
increasingly difficult or
impossible to treat.
AMR is one of the world’s most urgent public health problems, as it can affect people at any stage of
life, as well as the healthcare, veterinary, and agriculture industries.
How does AMR spread?
Patient consumes antibiotics
and develops drug-resistant
Drug-resistant bacteria spread to
other patients through unclean
Animals are fed antibiotics and
develop drug-resistant bacteria in
their gut. The bacteria remain on
the meat from
Drug-resistant bacteria spread to
humans through food, the
environment (water, soil, air), or by
direct human-animal contact.
Drug-resistant bacteria spread to the
Learn how you can protect yourself and your loved ones against AMR
Fight the spread of bacteria by practising good hygiene such as proper handwashing with soap and water, proper preparation of food and keeping up to date with your vaccinations. It’s best not to get sick in the
When prescribed for bacterial infections, take antibiotics exactly as per your doctor’s advice.
Ensure you and your family receive timely vaccinations to prevent infections and the overuse
Adopt a healthy lifestyle and practice good hygiene. Wash hands with soap and water for 20
Consume thoroughly cooked food and
When you are sick, always see your doctor who will prescribe medicine for you according to your condition.
Don't adjust antibiotics dosage on
Don’t share your antibiotics with
Don't save your antibiotics for future illnesses. Discard all
Don’t use antibiotics to treat viruses like common cold
Let’s all play our part in preventing antibiotic and antimicrobial resistance.
Having green phlegm is not always a sign of a bacterial infection that requires antibiotics to get better. More white blood cells are produced in our body during infections which can be caused by viruses or bacteria. When large amounts of white blood cells are present in your phlegm, it may appear green.Therefore, coloured phlegm does not mean you need antibiotics.
Antibiotics DO NOT work on viruses and do not speed up recovery from viral infections. Common misuses of antibiotics include using them for viral infections such as flu, the common cold or COVID-19.
Taking antibiotics unnecessarily can lead to
Symptoms of bacterial and viral infections can be similar for upper respiratory tract infections. Differentiating between the two requires medical assessment and you should consult your doctor for the treatment you need.
Here’s an animated clip to help you learn why antimicrobials are a precious resource and how you can help to reduce the spread of
“The Antibiotic Tales” by Sonny Liew and Hsu Li Yang (NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health)Help your loved ones or others understand the importance of appropriate antibiotics usage
by sharing the resources below.
Some other resources to learn about antimicrobial resistance:
Other videos on antibiotics
OneHealth agencies if they would like to include one link to their webpage for people to learn what their agencies do about AMR.
Antimicrobial Resistance: What You Need to Know
In partnership with