Antibiotics not for viral infections

It’s that time of year when everyone seems to have a little cold. For some of us, it seems like much more than a little cold – but in fact, that is all it is. I myself was in the sick boat this past week. Being that I’m privileged to work with numerous doctors, I went begging for something that will make me better. I don’t have time to be sick. Who does? I was shocked that each one that I ask simply told me, “Sorry, there’s nothing we can do.” Nothing you can do? What does that mean? Surely, doctors write prescriptions, so write me a z-pack prescription and I’ll be feeling better in 3 days.

What they were trying to do is educate me about the effectiveness of antibiotics on viral infections. Most common colds are viral, not bacterial. Viral infections that should not be treated with antibiotics include:

  • Colds
  • Flu
  • Most coughs and bronchitis
  • Sore throats (except for those resulting from strep throat)
  • Some ear infections

Sure, you can take antibiotics, and it may help. But your body will start developing immunity to those antibiotics, so that when you really do need them to work, they won’t be strong enough to help you.

Your best bet is to see a doctor and treat the symptoms. That means cough suppressant, decongestants, and pain reliever.   Most colds will run their course in a week. If you have a fever lasting more than 1 day or symptoms lasting longer than 5 days, make another appointment to see your doctor to be re-evaluated. The number one thing is prevention. So wash your hands often this cold season, and get yourself a flu shot!

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