As a full scope Family Physician, one of the most common visits we get are for upper respiratory infections (URI's). Patients may commonly refer to these as colds, sinus infections, bronchitis, ear infections, or sore throats. Studies show that the average adult will have 2-3 URI's per year, while children will get 6-10 per year. Fortunately, the vast majority of these infections are viral and will usually resolve on their own in 7-10 days. So, why am I taking the time to write about this?
Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem, both in the United States and across the world. The main driving factors behind antibiotic resistance are the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. Antibiotics only work against bacterial infections, so they are not helpful in the vast majority of URI's. At Fishers Direct Family Care, we follow evidence-based guidelines to dictate the proper usage of antibiotics. As you can see from the table below published by the CDC, antibiotics are not helpful in the vast majority of URI's.
Worse yet, antibiotics can actually cause more harm than good. Taking an antibiotic when you don't have a bacterial infection can increase resistant bacteria in your body making it harder to treat future infections. Antibiotics can also cause side effects such as nausea and vomiting. They can also lead to diarrhea and serious abdominal infections as they kill off healthy bacteria in our gut.
All in all, we want to be sure to use antibiotics in the correct manner to treat likely bacterial infections while avoiding them when a virus is suspected. For viral infections, we can find other ways to help improve your symptoms while we give your body time to clear the infection on its own.
For additional information, click here to learn more from the CDC.