When should you use antibiotics for common cold or flu?



When should you use antibiotics for common cold or flu?


It’s one of the most common questions these days: when should I use antibiotic for common cold or flu, and why sometimes my doctor advises me not to use antibiotic?


Well, first of all you should know that most of the infections which cause the common cold or flu are of viral origin and not bacterial. The antibiotics are actually antibacterial and have no effect on viruses.


From this start point we see that it is right not to describe antibiotics for common cold or flu as doctors, but there are some indications which guide us that it’s bacterial infection and these are some of them:


1.  Infection associated with fever lasting more than 9 days.

2.  Tonsillar exudates.

3.  Very sick looking.


        one of the most commonly used antibiotics for such patients is penicillin, which cause a severe rash and a real discomfort with patient affected with Epstein barr virus, a virus that cause flu like symptoms.


        According to medical studies, the use of antibiotic in these viral infections will cause the disease to resolve just one day less than with people untreated with antibiotics so decreasing the coarse from 14 to 13 days and it’s insignificant. When comparing this result to the side effects of antibiotics you’ll find it actually useless.


         I know most of the people wonder why the doctors don’t like to prescribe us antibiotics even though we are sick. Here is small list of causes excluding the ones we mentioned above:


  1. The more you use the antibiotic, the more the bacterial resistance in the future will be. And we’ll make our antibiotics useless and the bacteria even harder to treat. The next generations also won’t have effective antibiotics.
  2. Side effects of antibiotics, There are unlimited side effects to the use of antibiotics from as simple as rashes to severe as shock and death.
  3. The cost of antibiotics.


And the list never comes to an end but I mentioned the most important ones.


         But at last u should know that there are some cases where antibiotics should be used so always consult your doctor specially when the patient is a child because of Group B beta-hemolytic streptococci (A type of bacteria causes flu) which cause rheumatic fever(disease affecting mainly joints and heart) if untreated. But throat culture which takes 1-2 days to diagnose it wouldn’t affect the outcome so you can delay the use till the result of the culture.

2 thoughts on “When should you use antibiotics for common cold or flu?

  1. Well, as i said earlier most flu comes from viruses but when it comes from bacteria our first choice for not penicillin allergic people is amoxicillin.

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