Influenza commonly referred to as “flu”, is a highly contagious, acute viral infection of the respiratory tract. According to health experts, thousands of people suffer from this serious viral infection every year in Australia, while hundreds of them die of this deadly disease. According to rough estimates, influenza “flu” contributes to more than 3,000 deaths in Australia each year. This viral infection takes the shape of a pandemic during the winter season and puts a significant burden on the economy, causing not only missed days of work and school but also hospitalisations. So, what is the best way to fight influenza and stay healthy during the flu season? Is taking antibiotics for flu safe? Do they relieve the symptoms? Should you use antiviral medications to relieve flu symptoms? Is flu vaccination the best protection against influenza?
It is important to note that neither antibiotics nor antiviral medications or flu shots are a permanent cure for the flu or kill the flu virus; they only lessen the severity or shorten the duration of the associated symptoms.
Antibiotics For Flu – Do They Relieve The Symptoms?
- Firstly, you need to understand that common colds and flu are upper respiratory tract infections that are caused by a virus, so the use of antibiotics is definitely not the right choice, as they are only effective in treating bacterial infections. In fact, taking them to treat the common flu virus may do more harm than good.
- Secondly, you need to understand that taking antibiotics for non-severe viral upper respiratory tract infections such as common cold and flu may compromise your body’s natural response against such diseases and may increase your risk of getting an infection later that may resist antibiotic treatment.
- Thirdly and most importantly, use of antibiotics for the treatment of common cold, flu, cough, irritation of the throat, and other viral illnesses comes with many side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, allergies, ototoxicity, fever, and abdominal pain.
That said, if you have developed a secondary bacterial infection, such as sinus infection, ear infection, or bacterial pneumonia, as a complication of flu, your doctor may advise you to use an appropriate antibiotic to it.
Bottom line: Use of antibiotics to relieve the symptoms associated with influenza (flu) is not a safe and effective option since it is not a bacterial infection.
We recommend having the flu vaccination on an annual basis as the best option to minimise potential harm from this nasty infection.
Southgate Medical Centre