With winter illnesses still doing the rounds, members of the public may be tempted to demand antibiotics from their GP in place of rest, fluids and over the counter remedies. However, Dudley CCG is advising against the routine use of antibiotics for coughs, colds and flu.
There is a general misconception that antibiotics are of use when treating minor viral illnesses; in fact, 38% of all people who visit the GP suffering from a cold or flu think they need antibiotics.
Antibiotics are important medicines used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Winter conditions, such as cold and flu, are caused by viruses and therefore cannot be treated by antibiotics.
The best way to treat most colds, coughs or sore throats is to drink plenty of fluids and to rest. There are many over the counter remedies to ease the symptoms i.e. paracetamol and ibuprofen. Your local pharmacist can advise you on the most effective treatment.
If a cold lasts more than three weeks, or you become breathless, feel you are deteriorating or have chest pains, see your doctor.
The widespread use of antibiotics to treat viral infections has led to bacteria becoming antibiotic resistant. This has a knock on effect when treating life-threatening conditions, such as MRSA which is currently resistant to many antibiotics.
Dr Steve Mann, Clinical Executive, Dudley CCG said: “By only using antibiotics when it’s appropriate to do so, we can slow down resistance and make sure these life-saving medicines remain effective when we need them the most in the future.
“We now know that most coughs, colds and even ear aches get better just as quickly without antibiotics. So if you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms drink plenty of fluids, rest and if you need some pain relief take some paracetamol.”
Advice from Clair Huckerby, Consultant Pharmacist, Dudley CCG;
“Antibiotics should be taken as prescribed and never saved for later or shared with others.”
What patients should do:
• take only the antibiotics as prescribed
• not skip doses of antibiotics
• ensure antibiotics are taken at regular intervals
• never save some for later
• don’t stop taking them even if you feel better
• not share antibiotics with others.
If you need health advice, you can visit your local pharmacy or contact NHS 111”