(WXYZ) – Winter is the time many of us end up with a nasty cold. We don’t feel well – you start coughing, sneezing, suffer with congestion or a sinus infection, and maybe even have a low-grade fever.
It still surprises me that many of my patients want antibiotics right away to relieve their symptoms.
I get it. You want to feel better.
But the common cold is caused by viruses. It doesn’t matter what type of antibiotic you take or how much, it won’t get rid of it.
That’s because antibiotics only kill bacterial infections – not viruses.
The danger to taking this medicine when you don’t need it, is the very scary reality that over time, antibiotics will become less effective and when you really need it, because now you do have a bacterial infection, it’s not going to work.
That’s because bacteria are smart and adapt when antibiotics are overused. They become resistant to drugs over time.
Antibiotics should only be used to treat conditions like pneumonia, strep throat, bronchitis, or an ear infection and only if your doctor says they’re caused by bacteria.
So how can you feel better when you’re sick with a crummy cold? Here are my prescriptions:
- Drink plenty of water as you want to stay hydrated. Skip caffeinated drinks and alcohol, as these can dehydrate you.
- If you have a sore throat, get relief with a saltwater gargle. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt to an 8-ounce glass of warm water.
- Eat chicken soup. It can help loosen congestion by increasing mucus flow.
- If you’re in pain, adults can take either acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin. Be sure to take them only as directed.
- Over-the-counter cold and cough medications can also provide some relief.
And remember, the best way to avoid getting sick is thru prevention.
So wash your hands frequently, avoid anyone who’s ill, disinfect high-traffic areas and get the flu shot. It also helps if you eat nutritiously, manage stress, get regular exercise and a good night’s sleep.
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