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Antibiotics Useless for Viral Infections

by Ron Kurtus (8 October 2013)

Antibiotics are types of medications that destroy or slow down bacterial infections. On the other hand, viral infections are caused by viruses and are not destroyed or killed by antibiotics.

Unfortunately—even in the 21st century—many physicians prescribe antibiotics for viral infections. Not only is this practice useless, it can result in unpleasant side effects. One should question the abilities or knowledge of a physician who prescribes antibiotics for viral infections.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions. Health Disclaimer



Bacterial infections

Many infections are caused by bacteria. Common infections include:

A good physician should be able to identify that the infection is caused by bacteria and prescribe an antibiotic to help stop the infection. Typically, the antibiotics are fairly effective. Penicillin is an example of a highly effective antibiotic.

Viral infections

Common viral infections include:

The problem with viral infections is that there are no truly effective medications to stop them. Often, viral infections must simply run their course, allowing the human immune system fight the ailment.

In some cases, such as with the flu, a vaccine can be used to help the body build up immune to the disease.

Misuse by doctors

Although doctors have been repeatedly warning that antibiotics do not work for viral infections, such as sore throats or bronchitis, many continue to prescribe the medication.

National health surveys found that about 60% of medical visits for sore throats—caused by viruses—ended with prescriptions for antibiotics. Also, about 73% of all visits for bronchitis ended with with prescriptions for antibiotics.

Antibiotics have such side effect as stomach pain and diarrhea. Also, the practice can result in drug-resistance germs in the person.

One of the problems doctors face is that patients often demand some sort of medication to help "cure" their infection. Also, some doctors don't want to spend the time to explain why antibiotics won't work for some illnesses.

There are some over-the-counter cough medicines can help an ailment such as bronchitis, and gargling with salt water can help sore throats. But of course, this puts the onus on the patient. Many expect an instant cure.

It is irresponsible for a physician to prescribe antibiotics for viral infections, simply to get the patient out the door.

Summary

Many physicians prescribe antibiotics for viral infections.

Antibiotics are types of medications that destroy or slow down bacterial infections. On the other hand, viral infections are caused by viruses and are not destroyed or killed by antibiotics.

Not only is this practice useless, it can result in unpleasant side effects. One should question the abilities or knowledge of a physician who prescribes antibiotics for viral infections.


Make sure you have a good doctor


Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials

Websites

Doctors ignore advice on sore throats, bronchitis - Lindsey Tanner- Associated Press

Antibiotics: Misuse puts you and others at risk - MayoClinic.com

Government's antibiotic advice

General Health Resources

Books

Top-rated books on Being Healthy


Questions and comments

Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.


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