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Feeling under the weather? Take care not antibiotics

Deryth Stevens

With the weather getting colder and illnesses circulating, members of the public may be tempted to use antibiotics in place of rest and over the counter remedies. However, NHS Warwickshire North Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is advising against the use of antibiotics for coughs, colds and flu.

There is a general misconception that antibiotics can treat winter conditions, in fact, 44%* of all people who visit the GP suffering from a cold or flu want or think they need antibiotics.

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 and ibuprofen. 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 has led to certain bacteria becoming antibiotic resistant. This has a knock on effect when treating life-threatening conditions, such as MRSA which is currently resistant to several antibiotics.

Dr Deryth Stevens, Clinical Lead at NHS Warwickshire North CCG, said: “By only using antibiotics when it’s appropriate to do so, we can 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.”

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