They have become the go-to drug, with people expecting a good dose of antibiotics to sort all manner of ailments.
However alarming news shows that a growing resistance to the drugs is proving to be one of the greatest threats to modern health.
Experts say that a combination of the drugs being used unnecessarily for mild infections, and the public's misconception that they can cure colds and flu means people are building up a tolerance.
New resistant strains of bugs such as E. Coli and gonorrhoea have become a growing problem.
The big push is because there are very few new antibiotics in development.
The chief medical officer, Prof Dame Sally Davies, explains: "Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at a rate that is both alarming and irreversible - similar to global warming.
Bacteria are adapting and finding ways to survive the effects of antibiotics, ultimately becoming resistant so they no longer work."
Davies added, "I urge patients and prescribers to think about the drugs they are requesting and dispensing."
The Health Protection Agency have urged that the public have a misconception that antibiotics should be used to treat colds and flu.
Dr Cliodna McNulty from the HPA explained, "We all seem to forget just how awful you can feel with a bad cold, let alone flu, and this maybe makes us think that we are more poorly than we really are and that we need antibiotics to get better.
But this isn't the case and using your favourite over-the-counter medicines that can help to ease headaches, aching muscles and stop your nose running will make you feel a lot better."
The HPA have issued this list of do's and don'ts:
• Do remember antibiotics should be taken only when prescribed by a health professional.
• Do complete the prescribed course even if you feel better, as not taking the full course encourages the emergence of resistance.
• Don't share antibiotics with anyone else.
• Do remember that antibiotics cannot help you recover from infections caused by viruses, such as colds or flu.
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