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Cold and Flu Treatment

Q: Can antibiotics treat colds or the flu?

Dr. Donnica:
Antibiotics do not treat the flu, or colds for that matter, nor do they prevent any additional "superinfections" related to consequences of the flu. In fact, they may increase the likelihood for complications, with the causative germs more apt to be resistant and dangerous. Antibiotics are not benign drugs; they can have many side effects. Yet nearly two out of three people with influenza are misdiagnosed or mistreated and given antibiotics.  This contributes to the worsening problem of antibiotic resistance, as well as increasing the costs of medical care. Patients with proven or suspected bacterial pneumonia or strep throat should receive antibiotics, however.

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Created: 10/16/2000  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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