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Antibiotics don’t work on colds or flu – Self Care Week

Most of us will probably have a cold this winter and some of us will have flu.

Unfortunately, antibiotics don't work on colds or flu. Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections but colds and flu are caused by viruses.

There are more than 200 common cold viruses, and three types of flu virus with many different strains, so they're hard to avoid. These viruses can be spread through droplets that are coughed and sneezed out by an infected person. The viruses can also be transferred on a person's fingers. For example, if you have a cold and you touch your nose or eyes and then touch someone else, you may pass the virus on to them.

The main symptoms of winter bugs are coughing, sneezing, blocked nose, sore throat, headache and a slight temperature. If these are the only symptoms you have, it's unlikely that your GP will be able to do anything - in most cases, antibiotics (which are used to treat bacterial infections) aren't necessary.

A visit your local pharmacy may help where you can get advice on how to manage the symptoms and buy over-the-counter medicine. Pharmacists say cold and flu medicines are among their top sellers in the winter. Some of the remedies combine painkillers with decongestants, which help to manage symptoms.

Don't pass it on

  1. CATCH IT Germs spread easily. Always carry tissues and use them to catch your cough or sneeze.
  2. BIN IT Germs can live for several hours on tissues. Dispose of your tissue as soon as possible.
  3. KILL IT Hands can transfer germs to every surface you touch. Clean your hands as soon as you can.
  4. Get rest, eat well and stay hydrated.

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