Friday, September 29, 2023

Why Do Doctors Prescribe Antibiotics For Flu

Must read

When To Seek Medical Care

Why didn’t the health care provider prescribe my child antibiotics for their cold?

These are the emergency warning signs of flu sickness.

In children:

  • fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • bluish lips or face
  • ribs pulling in with each breath
  • chest pain
  • severe muscle pain
  • dehydration
  • not alert or interacting when awake
  • seizures
  • in children less than 12 weeks old, any fever
  • fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
  • worsening of chronic medical conditions

These are not all of the possible emergency warning signs of flu. Contact your doctor about any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

If you have the emergency warning signs of flu sickness, you should obtain medical care right away.

In adults:

  • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse
  • seizures
  • fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
  • worsening of chronic medical conditions

High-risk Group:

If you have symptoms of flu and are in a high-risk group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your doctor.

High-risk groups include:

  • adults 65 years and older
  • anyone with these conditions:

When To Use Antibiotics

The recommendations urge doctors to level with their patients, explain the likely course of the viral infection, and cut way back on antibiotics:

  • For the common cold: Doctors should not prescribe them.
  • For a typical chest cold : Doctors should not prescribe antibiotics unless they suspect the patient has pneumonia.
  • For a sore throat: Doctors should use antibiotics only if a test has confirmed that the patient has strep throat, which is a bacterial infection.
  • For an uncomplicated sinus infection: Doctors should use antibiotics only for persistent, severe, or worsening cases.

What Are Resistant Bacteria

Each time you take an antibiotic, bacteria are killed. Sometimes, bacteria causing infections are already resistant to prescribed antibiotics. Bacteria may also become resistant during treatment of an infection. Resistant bacteria do not respond to the antibiotics and continue to cause infection. A common misconception is that a person’s body becomes resistant to specific medicines. However, it is the bacteria, not people, that become resistant to the medicines.

Each time you take or give your child an antibiotic unnecessarily or improperly, you increase the chance of developing medicine-resistant bacteria. Therefore, it is critically important to take antibiotics only when necessary. Because of these resistant bacteria, some diseases that used to be easy to treat are now becoming nearly impossible to treat.

Bacteria can develop resistance to certain medicines:

Also Check: Goodrx Flu Shot Coupon Walgreens

Remember: Take Antibiotics Responsibly

What should I do when the antibiotics stop?

Tell your doctor if:

They can always restart your treatment if needed.

Special care

Please inform your doctor if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, are breast-feeding or have any liver or kidney problems.

If you have had Clostridium difficile diarrhoea in the past, let your doctor know before taking any antibiotics.

After treatment with certain antibiotics, you may get a fungal infection such as thrush. This is because antibiotics can destroy your bodys good, as well as the bad bacteria responsible for the infection being treated.

If you develop an allergic reaction, signs of which include breathlessness, swelling and rash, stop taking the antibiotic and seek urgent medical attention.

Allergies, reactions

Some people can be allergic to antibiotics, particularly penicillin and similar medicines such as cephalosporins, and may experience swelling of the face and tongue and difficulty breathing when they take these antibiotics. This is called an anaphylactic reaction and it can be serious or even fatal.

Please give clear details of any previous reactions before being prescribed antibiotics. It is important that the most suitable type of antibiotic is given to you for the infection whilst also avoiding any harmful effects.

Remember: Remind your doctor, nurse or pharmacist of any allergies before you receive any antibiotics.

Taking other medication

How to take antibiotics

What are the risks of taking antibiotics?

Why Your Doctor Won’t Prescibe Antibiotics

Half of all doctors prescribe antibiotics for colds and flu driving ...

Why are some doctors so stingy with antibiotics? House Call Doctor reveals the dangers of antibiotic overuse. Plus – the reason why it’s so hard to get a prescription for antibiotics over the phone

  • Print

Scientific American presentsHouse Call Doctorby Quick & Dirty Tips. Scientific American and Quick & Dirty Tips are both Macmillan companies.

Have you ever wondered why doctors seem so stingy with antibiotic prescriptions?

I mean, here you are suffering from a nasty cold and you simply cannot be sick right now . Whats the harm in taking a few anti-bacterial zappers? They couldnt hurt, right? Why cant these stuffy doctors just give in a little?

A new patient recently came to see me in clinic. He decided to switch primary care doctors after his previous doctor wouldnt write a prescription for a second round of antibiotics without seeing him in clinic.

Initially, the patient self-diagnosed with a sinus infection, called his doctor, was given one round of antibiotics that didnt seem to work. So he tried to call in for another round but was denied. He was distraught and angry.

I cant come in for every little thing just because he wants to collect my copay and make money off every visit, he exclaimed. So I told him Im finding a new doctor!”

It’s a valid question: Why are some doctors hesitant about prescribing antibiotics, especially without a visit?

Unfortunately, in spite of what you may have heard, antibiotics dont do a thing for viruses.

Read Also: How Much Do Flu Shots At Cvs Cost

Why Antibiotics Don’t Work For All Illnesses

Bacteria are microscopic organisms found throughout nature. They can live inside or outside the human body somesuch as the bacteria in your digestive system are beneficial and necessary for good health. Others, however, are pathogenic, meaning they cause infection and illness.

Certain bacteria are responsible for a variety of human respiratory infections, including some sinus and ear infections, certain kinds of pneumonia, and strep throat. These can be targeted and effectively neutralized by antibiotic drugs.

The common cold, influenza, and other viruses, on the other hand, are not caused by bacteria. When you get a viral infection, the virus invade your body’s cells, using their machinery to help make more and more viruses.

Antibiotics do not kill viruses, so they won’t shorten a viral illness. Instead, there are some antiviral medications that can be used against specific viruses, such as influenza or HIV.

Viral Infections And Antibiotics

Antibiotics treat bacterial infections, but influenza is caused by a virus, so antibiotics arent effective treatment for the flu. In fact, antibiotics may do more harm than good if you have the flu, says Dr. Tyler Policht, a family medicine doctor at Geisinger. They wont help you feel better, and they can cause other health problems.

Thats because viruses infect your body in a different way. Viruses infect your cells and multiply inside of them. For the virus, your cells act as a sort of Trojan horse so they can reproduce. Because they hide in your cells, antibiotics cant affect viruses in the same way.

Recommended Reading: When Is Cold And Flu Season In Florida

How Do Antibiotics Work And Why Are They Prescribed

Dr. Hodges discusses how antibiotics work and why they are prescribed. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

Antibiotics are strong medicines that fight bacterial infections by killing the bacteria or keeping them from reproducing, according to the National Institutes of Health .

Antibiotics are prescribed to fight off bacterial infections until your bodys natural defenses are strong enough to take over as you work your way back to health, according to the NIH.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians , some reasons your doctor might prescribe an antibiotic include:

  • Cough or bronchitis Usually, these illnesses are caused by viruses. When symptoms last a long time, it may be determined that they are caused by bacteria. In those cases, your doctor might decide to prescribe an antibiotic.
  • Sore throat Sore throats are usually caused by viruses and dont need antibiotics. Bacteria do, however, cause strep throat. If your doctor thinks you have strep throat, you will be tested to determine whether you need an antibiotic.
  • Ear infections Antibiotics work to care for some but not all ear infections.
  • Sinus infections Physicians often prescribe antibiotics to treat sinus infections, but discolored mucus from a runny nose does not necessarily mean you have a sinus infection or need an antibiotic.

For more information about how antibiotics work and why they might be prescribed, talk with your physician.

Learn more:

How Can I Protect My Family And Myself From Antibiotic Resistance

When not to use antibiotics

There is a way to protect yourself and others from resistant bacteria, and that is to respect antibiotics and take them only when necessary for a bacterial infection. Here are some useful tips:

  • When you see a doctor, don’t demand antibiotics. Understand that antibiotics are used for bacterial infections, not symptoms of a cold or flu virus.
  • If a doctor prescribes antibiotics, use them as prescribed. Take all of the antibiotics as directed and don’t save some for future use.
  • Don’t share antibiotics with others.
  • Preventing the flu in the first place may help you avoid getting sick altogether. Get a flu shot each year. Also, make sure you wash your hands frequently and thoroughly to prevent spreading germs.

    Show Sources

    Don’t Miss: Can The Flu Make Your Eyes Hurt

    What Are Flu Antiviral Drugs

    Flu antiviral drugs are prescription medicines that fight against flu viruses in your body. Antiviral drugs are not sold over the counter. You can only get them if you have a prescription from a health care provider. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics, which fight against bacterial infections.

    Path To Improved Well Being

    Antibiotics can only treat bacterial infections. This includes strep throat and urinary infections. Antibiotics cannot treat viruses. This includes colds, the flu, or mono . Sometimes doctors prescribe an antibiotic to prevent an infection. Antibiotics are also used to treat some illnesses caused by parasites.

    Tips to reduce antibiotic resistance:

    • Dont ask your doctor for an antibiotic for a virus. Ask what you can do to feel better and treat your symptoms.
    • Follow the daily dosing instructions. Take all the medicine as prescribed dont save any. This helps kill the infection completely.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water before you eat and after you use the bathroom. This will help keep you healthy. It can reduce the need for antibiotics.

    Also Check: Is The Flu Shot Every Year

    Why Dont Antibiotics Work On Viruses

    Viruses are different to bacteria they have a different structure and a different way of surviving. Viruses dont have cell walls that can be attacked by antibiotics instead they are surrounded by a protective protein coat.

    Unlike bacteria, which attack your bodys cells from the outside, viruses actually move into, live in and make copies of themselves in your bodys cells. Viruses can’t reproduce on their own, like bacteria do, instead they attach themselves to healthy cells and reprogram those cells to make new viruses. It is because of all of these differences that antibiotics dont work on viruses.

    What Is Antibiotic Resistance

    Doctors prescribe way too many antibiotics. Experts offer tips on ...

    Antibiotic resistance refers to the ability of some germs to survive the drugs we take to kill them. This can happen as a result of overuse, described above, or misuse, as when a patient with strep throat misses doses of their antibiotics or stops taking their pills once they feel better. Instead of being killed, the strep bacteria are, in the words of one scientist, educated in how to fight the drug. Then, if those germs are passed to someone else, the same antibiotic will be less effective.

    Superbugs are germs that are resistant to many antibiotics. The best-known superbug is MRSA , a drug-resistant form of staph. Other superbugs cause hard-to-treat forms of pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea and UTIs. Every year, 2 million Americans fall ill with antibiotic-resistant infections.

    Superbugs take more time and money to treat. Today, a simple sore throat or UTI might inconvenience you for a week, until your inexpensive generic antibiotics kick in. In the future, that week could turn into a month and multiple rounds of pricey specialized antibiotics.

    Thats not all. Antibiotics are the unsung hero that support many medical breakthroughs, Dr. Knecht says. Theres a whole slew of technologies we wouldnt be able to use if antibiotics stopped working: surgery, dialysis, chemotherapy, gene therapy, bone marrow transplants. All of these treatments would be too dangerous without effective ways to head off and treat infection.

    Recommended Reading: Is The Flu Shot Good To Get

    Is My Infection Bacterial Or Viral

    This distinction can be tricky, which is why it’s worth a visit to your healthcare provider to be evaluated. People with underlying lung problems or other chronic illnesses may be more prone to bacterial infections and should seek a professional opinion sooner rather than later.

    Generally speaking, however, there are some ways bacterial and viral infections can be differentiated.

    • Most produce a wide variety of symptoms, such as a sore throat, sniffles, cough, and body aches

    • Usually abate after a week

    • Often cause a more focused area of discomfort, such as a severely painful ear or an extremely sore throat

    • Symptoms usually last for longer than 10 to 14 days

    Viral illness that last more than 10 days or that grow suddenly worse after five to seven days may be signs that you have developed a secondary bacterial infection. While you did not require antibiotics for the initial viral infection, you will need them now.

    Some of the signs used to be thought of as being suggestive of the presence of a bacterial infection, but this is no longer believed to be accurate.

    What Are Antibiotics

    Antibiotics are medicines used to treat infections caused by bacteria. They work by either killing bacteria or preventing their growth. Different types of antibiotics are used to treat different types of infection.

    When should antibiotics be used?

    • Antibiotics are only effective against infections caused by bacteria.
    • They do not work against infections caused by viruses such as common colds, flu, most coughs or sore throats.
    • Your doctor will only prescribe antibiotics when you need them. Antibiotics may be lifesaving for infections such as meningitis.
    • When you first come to hospital, often its too early to be sure of what is causing your illness, so doctors may give you antibiotics just in case.
    • If you are having an operation you may be given antibiotics to prevent an infection. This is known as prophylaxis and they will be given before surgery.

    How long should I take antibiotics?

    Antibiotics are given for a specific period of time and you should be told this information.

    When doctors prescribe antibiotics just in case, they will review your response to treatment carefully.

    • If you are reviewed and your doctors decide that the illness isnt caused by bacteria, they will stop antibiotics.
    • When your doctors have your test results they can decide how long you need antibiotics for and which ones you need.
    • Your doctors may also decide that you need to carry on with the antibiotics you had before, because they are right for your illness.

    Don’t Miss: Does The Flu Shot Stop You From Getting The Flu

    What This Study Adds

    General practitioners are uncertain who benefits most from antibiotics for sore throat and are particularly concerned about complications

    Maintaining the doctor-patient relationship was not the primary reason for prescribing antibiotics

    Doctors are mostly comfortable with their antibiotic prescribing for sore throat

    When You Need Antibiotics And When To Avoid Them

    Antibiotics | Health | Biology | FuseSchool

    Viruses and bacteria are two types of germs that can cause infection and disease. Antibiotics kill bacteria, but have no effect on viruses. Some illnesses always require antibiotic treatment: strep throat, staph-based skin infections and common sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia.

    Other conditions may be caused by either bacteria or viruses, and it can be hard to tell the difference. If you develop pneumonia, pink-eye or a urinary tract infection, for instance, your doctor may test for bacteria before recommending antibiotics.

    You May Like: Does My Health Insurance Cover Flu Shots

    Cant I Take Antibiotics Just In Case

    Taking antibiotics when they arent needed actually increases the risk that bacteria become resistant to antibiotics. See, like any living organism, bacteria evolve to adapt to changing environments. If exposed to antibiotics enough, bacteria could evolve to become resistant. Doctors and medical experts see this as a big potential problem, because it increases the chances that harmful bacteria can no longer be treated, making us all more vulnerable.

    Taking antibiotics when you dont need them is also a waste and puts you at risk of side effects. This could mean a rash, upset stomach or diarrhea.

    Antivirals For Treating The Flu

    Even though antibiotics arent effective against the flu, there are antiviral medications that your doctor can prescribe within a certain time frame.

    If these drugs are started within two days of developing flu symptoms, they can help to make your symptoms less severe or shorten the duration of your illness.

    Antiviral drugs that are available to treat flu include:

    • oseltamivir
    • zanamivir
    • peramivir

    Theres also a new medication called baloxavir marboxil . This antiviral drug was created by a Japanese pharmaceutical company, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October 2018, and is now available to treat people 12 years or older who have had flu symptoms for no more than 48 hours.

    Some antiviral drugs, including oseltamivir, zanamivir, and peramivir, work by preventing the virus from being properly released from an infected cell. This inhibition prevents newly formed virus particles from going along the respiratory tract to infect healthy cells.

    The newly approved medication above, Xofluza, works by reducing the virus ability to replicate. But theyre arent usually necessary to get over the flu, and they dont kill the influenza virus.

    Its not an antiviral medication like those noted above, but the seasonal flu vaccine is available every year and is the best way to prevent becoming ill with the flu.

    Don’t Miss: Who Is Least Likely To Have Flu Related Complications

    More articles

    Popular Articles

    What Is B Type Flu

    When Do I Need A Flu Shot

    What If I Get 2 Flu Shots