How do I take my antibiotics?

If you are prescribed antibiotics, it is important that you follow your doctor’s advice on when, how, and for how long to take them.

Only take the antibiotic at the time and doses that your doctor has prescribed. These instructions should also be on the label that the pharmacist puts on your medicine.

The consumer medicine information (CMI) for your medicine also lists other useful information including:

  • how to take your antibiotic (e.g. with food)
  • what to do if you miss a dose
  • the side effects of your medicines
  • interactions with other medicines.

The CMI for your antibiotic will list the usual dose, but sometimes your doctor will prescribe a different dose that is more suitable for you.

Always finish the prescribed course of antibiotics

You should take your antibiotics for as long your health professional has told you to take them.

Sometimes the medicine box may contain more antibiotic pills than you will need. Don’t take more than the dose your doctor has prescribed. If you’re not sure, check with your doctor or pharmacist.

If you don’t finish the full course of your antibiotics, the bacteria causing your infection that are not killed can become resistant to that antibiotic, meaning that the bacteria will continue to live, multiply and cause infection, and the antibiotic will no longer be effective against it.

Tips for being medicinewise with antibiotics

Take your antibiotics at the right time, and for as long as directed.

Don’t keep unused antibiotics for another time — return leftover pills to your pharmacy for disposal.

Don’t share antibiotics with others — they may have a different infection and this can lead to antibiotic resistance.