Antibiotics May Not Be Answer For Flu or Colds - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/24/05

Antibiotics May Not Be Answer For Flu or Colds

If you're the typical patient, you're probably going to ask your doctor for an antibiotic when you're miserable with a cold or the flu. The problem is those are viruses and antibiotics don't work when it's a virus. So how can you tell when it's the flu that's bugging you?

"It's usually a sudden onset. It starts within an hour or two. Your body aches, you have a headache and it usually hurts to move your eyes around," Dr. Islon Woolf, an internist at Mt. Sinai Medical Center.

Dr. Woolf says when the symptoms are sudden, that's when you need antiviral medications like Tamiflu, instead of an antibiotic. He says patients pressure their doctors for what they want them to prescribe and ultimately they waste money on something that isn't going to work.

"People have to understand antibiotics only treat bacterial infections. The flu and colds are viruses and antibiotics do no treat that. Approximately 90% to 95% of infections are going to be viral so in general most people do not need antibiotics," says Dr. Woolf.

Dr. Woolfe says sometimes viruses that drag on can lead to a bacterial infection. So, at that point, you would need an antibiotic. But he says patients should treat their trouble with over the counter relief first. Then if symptoms continue to get worse over a period of a time, that's when you call your doctor. Otherwise, he says save your money and save your immune system for the big fight when you truly need an antibiotic. By the way, the CDC offers a guide for parents with frequently asked questions about colds, the flu and ear infections.

For that information ( click here ).

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