One question that I often get from patients
is regarding antibiotics for common illnesses like the common cold. We all know what a cold
feels like, we all know that it makes us miserable and all know that it’s very contagious. Many
patients will come to me thinking that the best treatment for that is an antibiotic.
But to be honest, with the classic symptoms and the typical presentation, antibiotics
are not the right answer. They’re not effective. They don’t help. The common cold is caused
by a virus and antibiotics do not treat a virus. In addition, if you were to give an
antibiotic to a patient who didn’t need it, you run the risk of side effects, allergic
reactions, complications and also the worst thing is you develop antibiotic resistance
amongst bacteria, which means when you do have a bacterial infection later on it’s less
likely that the antibiotic we wanted to prescribe is going to work.