Jon Tilli took antibiotics for five years to treat his chronic sinus problems. Doctors gave him a new prescription every three to four months.
"They said that one wasn't strong enough, so they gave me this one and that still didn't work," Tilli said.
Health officials say antibiotic overuse in the U.S. is a public health threat. Now the Centers for Disease Control and more than two dozen other health organizations are issuing new policies to fight antibiotic resistance.
"We are seeing an increase in resistance among common infections, so we're seeing an increase in hospitalizations that are due to antibiotic resistant infections," said Lauri Hicks of the CDC.
Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections, but a new poll shows more than one-third of Americans mistakenly think antibiotics also help fight viruses.
Health groups are also taking aim at antibiotics used in food.
"We do want to see changes made so that we know that antibiotics in food animals are only being used in cases to makes sure that animals remain healthy," Hicks said.
Patients need to do their part, too. If you're prescribed an antibiotic, take the right dose, complete the course and do not save leftovers for later. And ask your doctor if you really need one.
"Nothing bad is going to happen to you if you wait a day or two to see if you're going to get better," said Dr. Lisa Liberatore of Lenox Hill Hospital.
It turns out Tilli needed surgery to correct his sinus problems.
"It was pretty much reconstructing my left sinuses," he said.
Now he's hoping he won't have to rely on antibiotics as much.
Children have the highest rates of antibiotic use, so resistance in children is a big concern.
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