You probably already know you shouldn’t take antibiotics for a cold – because a cold comes from a virus, not bacteria. But here are a few other times antibiotics won’t cure what ails you. And may harm you instead. 

  • For example: For a kid’s ear infection. Childhood ear infections are common. And the American Academy of Pediatrics says toddlers don’t automatically need antibiotics - because most infections clear up on their own. They recommend closely watching kids between six months and two years with ear infections. And if the symptoms don’t improve after three days, then they should start antibiotics. But overloading kids with antibiotics early on can weaken their immune system for life. 

  • Another illness that doesn’t necessarily need antibiotics: Bronchitis. It’s usually a viral infection. And even though antibiotics are useless against viruses, doctors prescribe them 80-percent of the time. But treating all infections with antibiotics is what leads to resistant bacteria. The bacteria find a way to thrive in spite of the treatments. Also, some antibiotics have scary side effects, like azithromycin, which raises the risk of death in people with heart rhythm problems. 

  • Also, a week’s worth of antibiotics are often prescribed for bladder infections – when fewer doses will do. Preventive health expert Dr. David Katz says most infections can be successfully treated in three days. In fact, 90-percent of bladder infections can be cured with a single dose. So, more is unnecessary.

  • The final issue that probably won’t be helped by antibiotics: Sinus infections. They’re the fifth-biggest reason for antibiotics prescriptions. Even though more than 90-percent of them are viral. And according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, sinus infection patients who took antibiotics didn’t improve any faster than those treated with a placebo.