Get Well, Get Smart...Antibiotics cannot cure colds

With winter bugs doing the rounds, patients are reminded that antibiotics don’t work against viruses that cause colds, most coughs and sore throats.

Plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids and over the counter remedies from your pharmacist should soon put you back on the road to recovery.

But despite this sound self-care advice, many of us may be tempted to visit the GP with our sniffles and coughs. Indeed 44% of all people who visit the GP suffering from a cold or flu want or think they need antibiotics.

Antibiotics are important medicines used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Winter conditions, such as cold and flu, are viruses and therefore cannot be treated by antibiotics.

The routine usage of antibiotics to treat viral infections has led to certain bacteria becoming antibiotic resistant. This has a knock on effect when treating life-threatening conditions, such as MRSA which is currently resistant to several antibiotics.

Health chiefs at Basildon and Brentwood CCG are taking part in a campaign to tackle the common misconception that antibiotics can treat winter conditions.

Lisa Allen, Chief Nurse at Basildon and Brentwood CCG, said: “We now know that most coughs and colds get better just as quickly without antibiotics. So if you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms drink plenty of fluids, rest and consult your pharmacist about medicines to help you with your symptoms.

“Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections. They cannot treat viral infections such as colds and sore throats. By only using antibiotics when it’s right to do so, we can slow down resistance and make sure these life-saving medicines remain effective when we need them the most.”

If your cold lasts more than three weeks, or you become breathless or have chest pains, see your doctor or dial NHS111.

For more information visit Stay Well this Winter