Health Blog

I Want an Antibiotic!

Humans vs. Pathogens (aka germs or bugs). Antibiotics have been used since the early 1900’s and continue to protect us from bacteria. But when taken for non-bacterial infections, they may actually do more harm than good. Below is a list of common illnesses this time of year from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

Chart showing that the following illnesses are usually caused by viruses and don’t need antibiotic treatment: colds/runny nose, bronchitis/chest cold (in otherwise healthy adults), flu, sore throat (except strep), and fluid in the middle ear (otitis media with effusion). Chart also shows that the following illnesses are usually caused by bacteria and do need antibiotic treatment: whooping cough, strep throat, and urinary tract infection.














As you can see, many of these common illnesses are caused by viruses. Many of these infections interrupt our lives and cause us aches and pains. Your Cherry Health provider can determine if antibiotics are needed by asking about symptoms and doing a physical examination. So if your Cherry Health provider has told you it’s probably a virus, it is okay.

There are a number of over-the-counter things you or your child can do to relieve the symptoms while the virus runs its course including:

  • Talking to your Cherry Health Heart of the City Pharmacist to see what over-the-counter pain and fever reliever is best for you or your child to use
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Avoid smoking or second-hand smoke

If you do have a bacterial infection your provider might prescribe you an antibiotic. You will still need plenty of rest and fluids, but the antibiotic will help your body fight the bacteria. Although many antibiotics are free, they only work for certain infections. If taken for non-bacterial infections or the wrong antibiotic is written for the wrong infection it may cause more harm than good.

Remember, preventing infections is the key to good health. You can prevent infections in a number of ways:

  • Keep you and your child up to date with recommended immunizations
  • Make sure you are washing your hands!
  • Only use antibiotics as directed and only when necessary

Stay healthy!

Brett Gingrich, PharmD
Director of Pharmacy Services at Cherry Health