When do I need antibiotics?
Antibiotics only treat infections caused by some bacteria. They do not work on viral infections like:
- Common cold (viral upper respiratory tract infection)
- Sore throat (viral pharyngitis), unless it is “strep throat”
- Cough (viral bronchitis)
- Runny nose
Viruses also cause most earaches (middle ear infections) and sinusitis.
Taking antibiotics for viral infections will not:
- Help you feel better
- Keep you from spreading the illness
How can I treat my respiratory tract infection?
Healthy adults and children with viral infections will usually start to get better in a few days. In the meantime, the following instructions will help you feel better and avoid passing the virus to others:
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Rest as much as possible and try to stay home while you are ill.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Talk to your pharmacist about over-the-counter medicines that can help relieve your symptoms. Acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol ®) and ibuprophen (for example, Advil ®) can reduce the fever, aches, and pain that are often associated with colds and flu.
It can take several weeks to fully recover from a cold. However, you should consider checking with your doctor if your illness is still getting worse after four days or you:
- Got better then worse with an increased fever.
- Have a recurrent fever over 38.5oC.
- Have rapid breathing or trouble breathing.
- Have severe pain or fever.
What can I do to reduce antibiotic resistance?
The best way to reduce antibiotic resistance is to:
- Reduce antibiotic use:
- Prevent colds and flu: Washing your hands frequently in cold and flu season can reduce the risk of infection by as much as 50%. Staying away from others when you are sick reduces the spread of infection.
- Ensure you and your children are up- to- date on your vaccinations: Vaccines prevent respiratory infections such as chickenpox, measles, and influenza.
- Use antibiotics wisely
- Take antibiotics exactly as prescribed: If you are prescribed antibiotics, follow the dose and schedule instructions exactly.
- Treat viral infections responsibly: Don’t pressure your doctor for antibiotics when you have a viral infection. Instead, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about ways to feel better when you are ill. There are medicines you can take to relieve your symptoms.