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  • Let's Set The Record Straight: Taking Antibiotics Won't Cure Colds Or Flu

    Know the difference between a viral and bacterial infection
    by Lei Dimarucut-Sison .
Let's Set The Record Straight: Taking Antibiotics Won't Cure Colds Or Flu
PHOTO BY @seb_ra/iStock
  • Antibiotics are one of the greatest inventions of our time. However, in a multi-country survey by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015 involving close to 10,000 respondents, it was discovered that there is poor awareness on the proper use of antibiotics, which has led to misuse and abuse. Here are some of the highlights of the said survey:

    • 64% of respondents thought antibiotics treat the flu or cold
    • 25% think it is acceptable for them to get the same antibiotic prescribed to a friend or family member to treat the same illness
    • 43% believe it is acceptable to get the same antibiotic prescribed to them previously if they had the same symptoms
    • 32% think they should stop taking antibiotics when they feel better, without finishing the full prescription

    When do you need antibiotics?

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotics are useful in treating bacterial infections, the common ones being:

    - Urinary tract infection (UTI)

    - Respiratory tract infections like a sore throat, sinusitis, and pneumonia

    - Ear infections

    - Sexually-transmitted diseases like chlamydia

    - Foodborne infections like salmonella and E.coli

    Health professionals warn against the improper use of antibiotics, such as discontinuing the use of a prescribed antibiotic before it is completed, as this can result to antibiotic resistance, which occurs when bacteria becomes desensitized to medication. It is dangerous to health and could even be fatal.

    Should you take antibiotics for colds and flu?

    Colds and flu are caused by viruses, not bacteria. Viral infections cannot be treated by antibiotics, and most treatments available only help manage the symptoms, not the cause of the infection itself. 


    If you are down with a viral infection, you just have to allow your immune system to fight it off. A viral infection usually lasts anywhere between 7 and 10 days, but it could also take longer in some cases. In the meantime, as you let it run its course, get enough rest and stay hydrated to help ease the symptoms.

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