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Colds and flus - antibiotics

  • Definition
    • Antibiotics do NOT cure colds and flus.

  • Alternative Names
    • Antibiotics - colds and flu

  • Information
    • Antibiotics fight infections that are caused by bacteria. They do not treat infections that are caused by a virus. Colds and flu are caused by viruses. If you have a viral infection, antibiotics will NOT make you better.

      The overuse of antibiotics can:

      • Kill normal ("healthy") bacteria that live in your body. This may cause nausea and diarrhea. Women can get vaginal yeast infections.
      • Increase the risk of drug-resistant bacterial infections.
      • Put you at risk of an allergic reaction.

      Do not take antibiotics when they will not treat an illness.

  • References
    • Fashner J, Ericson K, Werner S. Treatment of the common cold in children and adults. Am Fam Physician. 2012;86(2):153-159. PMID: 22962927 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22962927.

      Melio FR, Berge LR. Upper respiratory tract infections. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 75.