Antibiotics - do you need them?

Antibiotics - do you need them?

In today’s fast-paced, quick fix, instant-information world there’s an unrealistic expectation that a visit to the doctor can be cured with prescription medicine.

We want to dispel this myth, because, in fact a significant number of illnesses are viral, not bacterial, and respond well to what could be called old-fashioned remedies.

“Rest, fluids, over the counter medication, such as Paracetamol and time will cure most viral illnesses,” says Dr Alastair Fraser.

“In some viral infections, say the flu, shingles or chicken pox, an antiviral drug may be prescribed to shorten an infection and help prevent complications.  However, to be effective these need to be taken within the first 24-48 hours,” he says.

Colds, most sore throats, sinusitis, bronchitis, some ear infections and the flu are all caused by viruses.  Generally an individual’s immune system will kick in and fight off the illness, but it takes time – a cough or cold can last from seven to ten days.   If rest, fluids and proper doses of pain and fever relievers haven’t cleared the symptoms up within that time, be sure to contact your doctor.

“Antibiotics are the most important tool we have for fighting life-threatening bacterial infections, but they’re mostly ineffective if the illness is viral.

“Inappropriate use of antibiotics can lead to increased resistance, and resistance to these drugs is a pressing public health threat,” says Dr Fraser.

If your doctor prescribes antibiotics it’s important to take the medication as instructed, not to skip doses and to complete the course.

Posted: Fri 09 Jun 2017

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