Winter is definatly here and with it the fear and reality of flu, sore throats, coughs and chest infections. One reality many of us forget is the fact that viral, not bacterial, infections lie at the heart of most cases. The knee-jerk use of antibiotics will not help viral infections but will help encourage antibiotic resistant bacterial infections to flourish! It’s a worrying fact that within the past couple of years new drug-resistant patterns have emerged and resistance to common antibiotics has increased.
Below are some helpful pointers:
1. If you your doctor does not prescribe an antibiotic for a cold or flu, because the problem is a viral infection don’t feel cheated of treatment! Antibiotics aren’t effective against viral infections and will only add to the problem of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are appropriately prescribed for only bacterial infections.
2. If your doctor determines that you do not have a bacterial infection, do not pressure your doctor to prescribe antibiotics. Instead, ask about methods you can use to reduce your symptoms.
3. Take antibiotics exactly as prescribed by your doctor, even if you start to feel better finish the course. Finishing the course also helps prevent antibiotic resistance in the future.
4. Do not save leftover antibiotics for the next time you become sick.
5. Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else.
6. Do not assume that yellow or green mucus means that you need antibiotics. It is normal for mucus to get thick and change colour during a viral cold.
7. The vast majority of sore throats do not require antibiotics. Only 5 -15% of adult cases of sore throat are due to “strep.” If your doctor suspects strep throat, ask whether a throat swab is appropriate.
8. Prevention is better than cure. Consider using a probiotic supplement to help support immune function over the winter months.