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Antibiotics: Not Always the Answer

thermometer-temperature-fever-fluWhen you get sick, you want to feel better as soon as possible and it can be tempting to ask your doctor for an antibiotic to get you back on track. But antibiotics can only cure bacterial infections, such as strep throat or whooping cough. Viral infections, such as the common cold, the flu, and most sore throats, cannot be cured by an antibiotic.Taking an antibiotic for a viral infection will not help you feel better, and it will not keep people around you from getting sick. You may experience unnecessary and harmful side effects, and taking an antibiotic when it is not needed may make bacteria resistant to the antibiotic.It is important to see your doctor when you are sick so he/she can determine if an antibiotic is necessary. If your doctor does not prescribe an antibiotic, that does not mean you aren’t sick! You can take other measures to relieve your symptoms, such as:• Drink more fluids• Get plenty of rest• Talk to your doctor about over-the-counter treatment optionsIf you are prescribed an antibiotic, make sure to take it exactly as your doctor prescribes. Do not skip doses, and complete the entire course even once you start feeling better. Never take antibiotics that weren’t prescribed for you, and never share your antibiotics with anyone else.As always, the best way to prevent illness as we head into cold and flu season is to wash your hands often and get all recommended vaccines, such as the flu shot.

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