A new national survey indicates that most older Americans are concerned about overuse of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance, but many still expect an antibiotic prescription for illnesses that don’t require them.

The results from the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging show that 92% of US adults age 50 to 80 agreed that they are cautious about the use of antibiotics, and 89% agreed that overuse can result in antibiotics not working when they are needed. Fifty-six percent agreed that doctors overprescribe antibiotics.

Still, 41% of respondents said they would expect an antibiotic if they had a cold that lasted long enough for them to see doctor, and 34% agreed that antibiotics would help for a cold or flu, even though those illnesses are primarily or exclusively caused by viruses. One in four (23%) said doctors don’t prescribe antibiotics when they should.

Leftover antibiotics a problem

Credit: iStock, Drazen Zigic

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