Should I take antibiotics for a cold?

The cold, like the flu, is an upper respiratory tract illness caused by a viral infection. The cold is caused by rhinoviruses and the flu by the influenza virus. Being caused by viruses, antibiotics should never be taken to treat these illnesses.

The reality is as simple as that: there is no antibiotic that has an effect on viral infections. Antibiotics only serve to treat infections caused by other microorganisms, by bacteria.

Taking antibiotics unnecessarily is serious

Taking antibiotics to treat viral illnesses such as colds or flu not only does not achieve the desired therapeutic benefit, but all possible side effects will be received. That is, we do not get benefit, but the side effects of the medicine. One of the most serious is the generation of bacterial resistance, a growing public health problem that causes thousands of deaths every year around the world.

Exposure to antibiotics is the main cause of the development of resistance in bacteria. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria cause infections that are very difficult to treat and often lead to death.

the greater exposure to antibiotics, the greater the likelihood of resistance. Taking antibiotics unnecessarily is an antibiotic exposure that significantly contributes to microbial resistance without the patient achieving any therapeutic effect.

While the belief persists that antibiotics are effective in treating colds, it should be clear that it is a false belief that only exposes us to negative side effects without getting any positive effects. For these reasons, antibiotics should never be taken without a doctor’s prescription after a bacterial infection has been diagnosed.

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If your cold or flu is causing symptoms that are very severe or won’t go away with over-the-counter medications, it’s best to see your doctor to assess the situation. In some specific cases in people at risk, the use of antivirals can be useful, and in some cases there may be a bacterial infection secondary to colds, but only the doctor is able to make this diagnosis.

The problem of resistance is serious and antibiotics must be taken with great individual and collective responsibility, since resistant bacteria can spread and affect anyone, not just the person who has taken antibiotics unnecessarily.

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