PORTLAND --When was the last time you took antibiotics? Your answer may determine how ready your body is to fight off an infection.

It s the kind of information students from OSU s College of Pharmacy were passing out on Friday. They spent eight hours at Pioneer Courthouse Square educating the public during Antibiotics Awareness Week.

The flu is a virus and antibiotics only work on bacteria. With a virus you have to let it run its course, explained student Fideliz Lim.

Lim and the other students, along with the Oregon Department of Health, were also giving free flu shots to the uninsured. The hope is that the shots prevent the flu and keep people from looking for antibiotics.

It s becoming more and more of a problem. Patients pressuring their Doctors into prescribing antibiotics when they don t really need them, remarked Dr. Jessina McGregor, an OSU faculty member.

Taking an antibiotic when you don t need one can set you up for trouble in the future.

The bacteria can get resistant and then the next time you need an antibiotic it won t work, explained Dr. McGregor.

Children with ear infections were for many years given antibiotics but that thinking has changed.

For kids with recurring ear infections antibiotics can be appropriate but for most non complicated ear infections treating the symptoms is usually best, commented OSU Pharmacy Professor Roberto Linares.

When do you need antibiotics?

Urinary tract infections, skin infections and strep throat are caused by bacteria, answered Dr. McGregor.

For doubters who just don t feel they ll be healthy until they take antibiotics she adds, you re just going to end up spending money you don t have to. If you have the flu be patient and let the virus run its course.

For more information about antibiotics got to Antibiotics 101.

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