The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will observe November 14-20 as Get Smart About Antibiotics Week. This annual one-week observance is intended to raise awareness of the threat of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic prescribing and use.
Antibiotics do not fight infections caused by viruses like colds, flu, most sore throats, bronchitis, and many sinus and ear infections. Instead, simply treating the symptoms is considered the best treatment option for viral infections.
“Antibiotics should only be used to fight bacterial infections,” said Archbold Pharmacy director Chris Newman, PharmD. “When you use antibiotics appropriately, you do the best for your health, your family's health, and the health of those around you.”
Taking antibiotics for viral infections, such as colds, flu, most sore throats, bronchitis, and many sinus or ear infections:
- Will not cure the infection
- Will not keep other people from getting sick
- Will not help you or your child feel better
- May cause unnecessary and harmful side effects
- May contribute to antibiotic resistance, which is when bacteria are able to resist the effects of an antibiotic and continue to cause harm
Rest, fluids, and over-the-counter products may be your or your child's best treatment option against viral infections.
Remember–there are potential risks when taking any prescription drug. Unneeded antibiotics may lead to harmful side effects and future antibiotic-resistant infections.
What to Do
Just because your healthcare professional doesn't give you an antibiotic doesn't mean you aren't sick. Talk with your healthcare professional about the best treatment for your or your child's illness.
To feel better when you or your child has a viral infection:
- Ask your healthcare professional about over-the-counter treatment options that may help reduce symptoms.
- Drink more fluids.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Use a cool-mist vaporizer or saline nasal spray to relieve congestion.
- Soothe your throat with crushed ice, sore throat spray, or lozenges. (Do not give lozenges to young children.)
- If you are diagnosed with the flu, there are flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat flu illness. They are prescription drugs.
What Not to Do
- Do not demand antibiotics when your healthcare professional says they are not needed.
- Do not take an antibiotic for a viral infection.
- Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else.