DO I NEED ANTIBIOTICS?
Are you struggling with a Winter cold? Perhaps you have a cough? A sore throat? Is your body telling you off for leaving that beachy paradise and returning to the Winter weather? Whilst these may be reasons to seek professional help, such as visiting a GP or private doctor, such help should not always be in the form of an antibiotic prescription.
Antibiotics first came into use in the 1940s - they meant that bacterial illnesses such as pneumonia and bladder infections could be treated! Indeed, they are one of the great advances in medicine and when used properly, can be life saving. However, antibiotics can be prescribed incorrectly. This, in turn, has lead to the resistance of antibiotics such as Penicillin.
Antibiotics are taken to kill sensitive bacteria; the resistant ones survive and multiply.
According to Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England, 50,000 people are dying annually across Europe and the US from infections no longer sensitive to antibiotics.
Unnecessary Prescribing of Antibiotics
After numerous campaigns to reduce unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics, doctors are now more cautious as to when to prescribe them. Whilst you may expect an antibiotic prescription in your hand once you leave your GP surgery, don't be alarmed if you do not. This does not mean that you are not sick, but that there are better alternatives to treat you.
If Not Antibiotics, What Else?
Instead of providing a potentially unnecessary antibiotic prescription, your doctor may recommend:
- Visiting a pharmacy for Over-The-Counter medicines
- Please check with your pharmacist what medicines are appropriate per your medical history and age
- Getting as much rest as possible
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- Use anti-viral medicines if you have a flu
- Home remedies such as lemon and honey can soothe a sore throat and a dry cough.
It is important to remember that a cold and most sore throats are viral, which means that antibiotics will be ineffective against them. As well as this, a cold runs its course and your body will naturally fight it.
The use of Over-The-Counter medicines is only to help mask the symptoms of a cough, not cure your ailment.
Instead of prescribing antibiotics, your GP might suggest getting as much rest as possible and drinking lots of water
If you are prescribed antibiotics, then you must take them per your doctor’s instructions i.e. do not skip any doses and finish the course completely, unless your doctor tells you otherwise, or if you have a severe allergic reaction.
In general, you do not need to visit your GP if you've had a cough or cold for less than two weeks, for antibiotics.
When To See You GP With A Cough Or Cold:
However, you should seek medical advice if:
- You have had a cough for three weeks or more
- You cough up blood or experience chest pains or breathlessness
- You have unexplained weight loss, a change in voice or lumps or swelling in your neck
- Your cough is getting worse
So just remember, if you are told to “drink lots of fluids and get plenty of rest” it really is because that is the best medicine!
If you would like to discuss anything related to this article in more detail, do not hesitate in booking an appointment with London Doctors Clinic. To find a GP that is most convenient for you, head over to our clinic locations page - we have eight private clinics across central London to choose from! And, don't forget, our ninth clinic - Paddington clinic - is opening this month!
By Dipali Khurana