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Take care not antibiotics

With the flu season upon us many people may be tempted to go to their GP for antibiotics, but Nottingham City CCG is advising against using antibiotics for coughs, colds and flu.

“There is a general misconception that antibiotics can treat winter ailments,” said Mindy Bassi, Assistant Director of Medicines Management at Nottingham City CCG. “Antibiotics are important medicines used to treat infections caused by bacteria, but winter conditions such as cold and flu are viruses and therefore cannot be treated by antibiotics.”

Bacteria can adapt and find ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic; they become ‘antibiotic resistant’ so that the antibiotic no longer works. The more often we use an antibiotic, the more likely it is that bacteria will become resistant to it. Inappropriate use of antibiotics causes antibiotic resistance to increase and so antibiotics become less effective. Some bacteria that cause infections in hospitals, such as MRSA, are already resistant to several 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 available which can help ease symptoms. Your local pharmacist can advise you on the most effective treatment.

“We know that most coughs and colds get better just as quickly without antibiotics, and there is no need to go to your GP,” said Mindy Bassi. “So if you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms drink plenty of fluids, rest and take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you have aches and pains or a temperature.”

If the cough or cold lasts more than three weeks, or if you become breathless or have chest pains, see your doctor.

By only using antibiotics when it’s appropriate to do so, we can slow down the build-up of resistance and make sure these life-saving medicines remain effective when we need them the most.

Published: 1 December 2014