Get smart about when to use antibiotics. They don’t always help.

The crud is creeping through our communities, and it’s tempting to insist on antibiotics when you or your children are sick. Most of us know that getting a test for strep throat can help decide whether antibiotics are needed. With strep throat, antibiotics not only shorten the time you are contagious, but they can also prevent some nasty complications, such as rheumatic fever. Even so, taking antibiotics when they won’t help is causing major public health implications because bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics.

Antibiotics should only be used to fight bacterial infections. They don’t work on viruses, so taking them for a cold or the flu, viral bronchitis, and many sinus and ear infections can cause more harm than good.

If antibiotics are not recommended, then treat the symptoms and keep the patient as comfortable as possible. Ask about over-the-counter medication that might help, and have the sick person drink lots of fluids. This is such a hard thing with our culture of work, but the best thing you can do in most cases is to go home and rest or keep your kids home from school and daycare so they can rest.  Continue reading “Get smart about when to use antibiotics. They don’t always help.”