Snort, sniffle, sneeze

From Wellness Works newsletter, an FCHP publication

Posted December 8, 2011

Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.comAre you aware that viruses cause colds, flu, most sore throats and most bronchitis?

Did you know that antibiotics do not help fight viruses? It’s true. Plus, taking antibiotics when you have a virus may do more harm than good. Taking antibiotics when they’re not needed increases your future risk of getting an infection that resists antibiotic treatment.

Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world’s most pressing public health problems. It can cause complications for people who have common infections that once were easily treatable with antibiotics. When antibiotics fail to work, the results are longer-lasting illnesses, more doctor visits or extended hospital stays, and the need for more expensive medications with more side effects. Some resistant infections can even lead to death.

Sick people aren’t the only ones to experience the consequences. Families and communities feel the impact when disease-causing germs become resistant to antibiotics. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria can quickly spread to family members, school mates and coworkers—threatening the community with a new strain of infectious disease that is more difficult to cure and more expensive to treat.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that tens of millions of antibiotics prescribed in doctors’ offices each year are for viral infections, which can’t be effectively treated with antibiotics. Doctors often cite patient demand as a primary reason why antibiotics are over-prescribed.

Remember, taking antibiotics for viral infections such as cold, cough, the flu or most bronchitis will not cure your infection, keep your family members from catching it or help you to feel better. The best way to limit the spread of viral infections is by frequent hand-washing and by avoiding close contact with others.

When you use antibiotics appropriately, you do the best for your health, your family’s health and the health of those around you.

For more information:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention's page on proper antibiotic use