With the cold and flu season in full swing it is important to remember that antibiotics are not, unfortunately, the magic cure for all ailments. Antibiotics cannot fight viral infections that cause colds, flu, most sore throats and bronchitis, as well as many sinus and ear infections.
Antibiotics are important drugs, and since their invention they have played a significant role in treating bacterial infections, preventing the spread of disease and minimizing serious complications of disease.
“I try to encourage my patients to use antibiotics sparingly”, says Dr Vera Nikolic, “even though many patients may think antibiotics can help their ailment, often there are no indicators for me to prescribe them.”
Overuse and misuse of antibiotics have contributed to a growing number of drug resistant bacteria. The fact that bacteria develop resistance to a drug is normal and expected. However, the way that drugs are used affects how quickly and to what extent drug resistance occurs.
“You should never skip doses or stop taking the medication mid-way through a treatment without your doctor telling you to do so”, said Dr Nikolic, “as body can develop resistance to antibiotics, and stopping your treatment half way through may increase the chance of this happening.” Some illness causing bacteria may survive, typically the strongest members of the bacterial colony and this is what concerns Dr Nikolic and other medical professionals: “When these multiply, the colony will be stronger and may re sicken you, or spread to other people, untreatable by the same antibiotics.”
Patients should not demand antibiotics when their doctor advises that they are not needed, and should never take antibiotics which were prescribed for somebody else, as the medication may not be right for their illness. By taking the wrong medication, you may delay the correct treatment and thus allow the bacteria to grow.