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26 November 2014
With the flu season upon us members of the public may be tempted to ask their doctor for antibiotics in place of rest and over the counter remedies. However, Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) is advising against the use of antibiotics for coughs, colds and flu.
There is a general misconception that antibiotics can treat winter conditions: 44%* of all people who visit the GP suffering from a cold or flu want or think they need antibiotics.
Antibiotics are important medicines used to treat infections caused by bacteria. However, winter conditions such as cold and flu are 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 the cold lasts more than three weeks, or you become breathless or have chest pains, see your doctor.
The routine usage of antibiotics to treat viral infections has led to certain bacteria becoming antibiotic resistant. This has a knock on effect when treating life-threatening conditions, such as MRSA which is resistant to several antibiotics.
Dr Bruce Ella, clinical lead for medicines management at BCCG and GP from Dunstable 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.
“We now know that most coughs and colds get better just as quickly without antibiotics and the most effective way to protect yourself from flu is to get a vaccine. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, drink plenty of fluids, rest and if you need some pain relief take some paracetamol.”
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