Your Health Tamar Raucher | one year ago

Think You Need an Antibiotic for That? Think Again.

When you’re feeling lousy – runny nose, sore throat, body aches – getting a prescription for an antibiotic from your doctor can often seem like the best path to feeling better. But if you have an infection caused by a virus (and not bacteria), that prescription could be useless.

Antibiotics do not fight infections caused by viruses like colds, flu, most sore throats, bronchitis and many sinus and ear infections. In these cases, your doctor may “prescribe” rest, plenty of fluids or other symptom-fighters instead. In 2016, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Physicians released new guidelines on appropriate antibiotic use for what are called acute respiratory tract infections in adults. These guidelines are intended to help healthcare providers avoid unnecessarily prescribing antibiotics for common complaints and even provide guidance on how doctors can withstand patients who demand prescriptions. Because, yes, many do.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

During cold season, acute respiratory tract infections are the most common reason adults ask their doctors for antibiotics. According to these new guidelines, antibiotic medications are not needed to treat infections such as sore throat, uncomplicated bronchitis, pharyngitis, sinus infections or the common cold. Taking antibiotics for viral infections:
  • Will not cure the infection.
  • Will not keep other people from getting sick.
  • Will not help you or your child feel better.
  • May even 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.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Physicians’ new guidelines encourage patients and doctors to work together to prevent unnecessary use of antibiotics. With these new guidelines, providers are urged to suggest over-the-counter or at-home remedies that might ease their patients’ suffering. “Overuse of antibiotics contributes to the spread of antibiotic resistance, can cause serious adverse effects including allergic reactions, and is responsible for one of every five ER visits," says Lisa Davidson, MD, Medical Director of the Antibiotic Support Network (ASN). "Instead of patients immediately asking their doctor for an antibiotic which will not have any effect on a viral condition, patients and doctors should discuss over-the-counter remedies that could help soothe their symptoms.”