As we enter colder months and infections begin to spread, you may wonder how to best care for yourself or a loved one. While it can be tempting to head straight to the pharmacy, not all infections need to be treated with medications. Many clear up by themselves, making it important to know some basic cold and flu triage.
What You Need to Know
Viral vs. Bacterial Infections
Most infections are viral or bacterial in nature. Depending on the root of the cause, antibiotics may or may not help. The reason? Antibiotics are only designed to treat bacterial infections. Because many common respiratory infections are caused by a virus (influenza, the common cold, and COVID-19), they will not respond to antibiotics. In addition to not helping you heal quicker, taking unnecessary antibiotics can cause side effects and create discomfort. More, not all bacterial infections require antibiotics, as many can clear on their own. Examples include most cases of bronchitis and many sinus infections.
Prescription vs. Non-prescription Treatment
Take the guesswork out of treatment by calling your care provider when you or a loved one feel sick. Your provider can evaluate symptoms and determine the proper course of treatment.
If you have a bacterial infection, you may be prescribed an antibiotic. If you have a viral infection, you may receive an anti-viral.
In many instances, the best remedies aren’t over-the-counter.
Dehydrated? An upset stomach, runny nose, and/or fever can leave you dehydrated. As such, it’s important to drink lots of fluids, including water, when you’re under the weather.
Sore throat? *Soothe an agitated throat by sucking on ice chips, lozenges, or popsicles.
Congested? Using a saline nasal spray or a cool mist vaporizer may help. For more severe cases, consult a pharmacist or provider.
Bottom Line: Prevention is the best medicine. Stay healthy during cold and flu season by washing your hands with soap and water; avoiding others with known infections; and staying up-to-date on vaccines.
Contact a Provider
If you become sick, stay at home and rest. If symptoms do not improve, call or visit your doctor to determine the best treatment options. To find a provider, click here.
*Children younger than two years of age should not be given these food items as they pose a choking hazard.