Six myths about antibiotics – and the truth behind them

Antibiotics
Antibiotics

Many people believe their GP should prescribe antibiotics, when the drugs have no effect on the viruses that cause colds, flu and many coughs.

If used too often, bacteria that cause infections can build up resistance to the drugs.

To prevent this, here are some myth busters:

1) Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at an increasing rate. Bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics, which means they no longer work;

2) Many patients expect their GP to prescribe them antibiotics, even for cases that will get better naturally or respond better with other treatments;

3) Antibiotics do not work for ALL colds, or for most coughs, sore throats or earache.

4) Antibiotics can also cause side effects such as rashes, stomach pains and reactions to sunlight;

5) Producing green phlegm or mucus is not always a sign of a bacterial infection that requires antibiotics;

6) Most infections that result in you producing lots of phlegm or mucus are viral illnesses and will get better on their own, although you can expect to feel poorly for a few weeks.

To prevent antibiotic resistance the best thing we can practice is self-care - keeping fit and healthy, as well as knowing how to take medicines, treat minor ailments and seek help when you need it.

Many of the common ailments and illnesses like, colds, sore throats, head-aches, hangovers, upset stomachs, coughs, aches and pains are easily treated at home, or with advice from a pharmacist – with no need to see a doctor or nurse.

If you get a common illness, please speak with your local pharmacist who can provide you with the best treatment. It can help to keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home to treat a variety of common conditions.

If you want more information on antibiotic resistance, visit http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/ARC/Pages/AboutARC.aspx