With the weather getting colder and winter illnesses starting to circulate, you may be tempted to use antibiotics in place of rest and over the counter remedies.
In support of the Public Health England campaign ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is advising against the use of antibiotics for coughs, colds and flu and is joining the fight against antibiotic resistance.
There is a general misconception that antibiotics can treat winter conditions, in fact, research has shown that antibiotics are not effective. Antibiotics are important medicines used to treat infections caused by bacteria. 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. 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 when you don’t need them puts you and your family at risk. Taking antibiotics encourages harmful bacteria that live inside you to become resistant, meaning that antibiotics may not work when you really need them.
Relying on antibiotics to treat common viral illnesses has had a knock on effect when treating life-threatening conditions, such as MRSA which is currently resistant to several antibiotics.
Dr Nick Harding, GP and Chair of NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, said: “We have a responsibility to only using antibiotics when it’s appropriate to do so. This way we can help 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. So if you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms drink plenty of fluids, rest and if you need some pain relief take some paracetamol.”