Where persuasion hasn’t worked, doctors hope education will. They want people to know that antibiotics have no power over colds and viruses.
“The doctor may help figure things out, but the expectation that your child with a runny nose and cold and cough is given antibiotics and is going to be cured is often sort of misplaced,” says Dr. Martin Sherman, pediatrician with Lee Memorial Health System.
And sometimes dangerous.
“It’s frightening world-wide,” says Dr. Sherman.
Too many doses over time lead to resistance. Meaning that bugs, which should be susceptible to drugs are now immune.
“Even six or seven years ago we had about 10 or 12 oral antibiotics that would work on most ear infections. But we’re really down to three or four now, because the germs are now resistant,” says Dr. Sherman.
There’s a short list of ‘don'ts’ when it comes to antibiotics and viral infections. First, they don’t cure the illness. Second, they don’t keep other people from catching the sickness. And third, they don’t make your child feel better. The same rules apply to adults.
Late last year, physician guidelines changed, encouraging doctors to wait for 10 days before prescribing drugs for sinusitis and bronchitis.
“It keeps coming back once again, to trying to prevent the overuse of antibiotics. So that’s why the first line always is conservative treatment,” says Arlene Wright, nurse practitioner with Lee Memorial Health System.
Even when antibiotics aren’t the answer, your doctor may still help you with symptom management to make you feel better.