When Do I Need an Antibiotic If I Have a Cold? – Natalie Shum, MD – Emergency Medicine

When Do I Need an Antibiotic If I Have a Cold? – Natalie Shum, MD – Emergency Medicine


– We see a lot of patients who come in with colds that are caused by viruses. And sometimes it’s difficult to tell but if you’re in your first
couple days of runny nose, maybe a cough, maybe a low grade fever, antibiotic are not always
helpful in making you better. In fact, if you take too many antibiotics, your body will start to build a resistant to those antibiotics and
when you really need them in the future, when you have
a serious bacterial infection, they may not work for you. So I think it’s really important in the emergency room that
we educate our patients that not all ear infections
need antibiotics. If it’s early on, if a child looks well, doesn’t have a fever. Not all bronchitis or upper
respiratory infections need antibiotics and in
fact sometimes patients will have an adverse
reaction to the antibiotics and then have a bigger problem. Um, also common is when
patients get the stomach flu or gastroenteritis, a
lot of patients believe that the antibiotics will be
the cure to make them better but really it’s good
old fashioned hydration and rest and making sure
that you’re avoiding any kind of food that
will irritate the stomach. And you need to give
it a little bit of time before you start thinking that
an antibiotic would fix it. If an illness like a,
what seemed to be a cold with upper respiratory
symptoms like a cough, runny nose, congestion, sinusitis. If that’s going on for a longer duration where you’ve tried the supportive therapy, you’ve tried hydrating,
you’ve tried resting, and you’re still not getting better. At that point it’s good
to see your primary doctor or come into the emergency room. We can do a full examination,
we can check your vital signs, we can listen to your
lungs, look at your throat, and at that point decide if we need to do some further testing to determine if maybe you have a secondary bacterial infection.

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