Antibiotics for a virus?

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Imagine the following scene. You are lying in bed, your throat hurts, nose is running, your whole body is in pain, you feel weak. In comes your mother (sister, father…etc. ) and tells you to go and see a doctor, they will give you antibiotics and you will feel much better.

Sounds familiar? Everyone has experienced this at least a few times in a lifetime.

Why is using antibiotics for treatment of viruses wrong?

Well, first and foremost, antibiotics do not have any effect on viral infections. In a nutshell, antibiotics don’t kill viruses, because viruses have different structure than bacteria, and also, they replicate in a different manner. Antibiotics are specifically designed to kill bacteria, or prevent their further regrowth.

Taking antibiotics for viral infection will not cure the infection, nor it will help you feel better, and certainly will not prevent other people from getting sick. Also, inappropriate use of antibiotics can cause harmful side effects. Simply, it can cause more harm than good.

How do antibiotics work? They interfere with the bacterial cell wall and therefore prevent bacterial replication. Due to widespread use of these drugs, bacteria have found a way to adapt, by strengthening their own cell walls and by producing enzymes that can inactivate the antibiotic.

Number two, overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance. Research has shown that up to one-third to one-half of antibiotic use is either unnecessary or inappropriate. Resistant bacteria are stronger and therefore harder to treat.

Antibiotic resistance can also lead up to rise in superbug infections.  Parts of the world where there has been an alarming spread of superbugs include Israel, Greece, India, China and as been reported, also on the rise in Australia.


So, what’s our advice?

  • Never take any medication on your own, before consulting with your doctor.
  • Respect doctor’s advice. Do not insist on getting prescription antibiotics if you suffer from cold, flu, sore throat and other viral infections.
  • If you have any type of viral infection, you should: drink more fluids, get plenty of rest, consult your physician about over-the-counter treatment options that may help reduce symptoms.


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