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Nov 17, 2017 OHIOHEALTH
Do I Need an Antibiotic? Viral vs. Bacterial Infections

Cold and flu season is here, time to turn to the trusty medicine cabinet for those over-the-counter cure-all aids. Break out the cough drops and vapor rub!

But if a few days pass and you’re still experiencing lingering symptoms, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. You could have a more serious viral or bacterial infection. Let’s look at the differences between the two, and the best ways to treat them. Because trust us- there is a difference.

Virus vs. Bacteria

Here’s where things can get tricky. Because your treatment will depend on which of three categories your sickness falls into – bacterial, viral, or a mix of both.

A virus is a particle that can take over and infect a healthy cell. Bacteria is a microorganism that can be found all around and inside of you. Bacteria can be helpful or cause sickness.

Prescribing the Right Medicine

Scheduling an appointment with your doctor can seem like an inconvenience, especially when they suggest an over-the-counter remedy. Or, in the case of a virus, you have to let it run its course until it’s flushed out of your body. It’s tempting to still ask for an antibiotic, but it could do more harm than good.

Overusing Antibiotics

When you overuse or misuse antibiotics, your body can become resistant to them. This means the next time you truly need one, your body may not be able to fight off the illness like it should. Or in more serious cases, antibiotic resistance has led to the rise of infections that can’t be cured by antibiotics.

Armed with Information

Whether it’s a viral or bacterial sickness – you don’t want it. Both make you feel the aches and pains we all dread this time of year. Now that you know the difference, you’re better prepared to know what your body needs to get you on the road to recovery.

Need a primary care physician on hand during cold and flu season? Click here to find a physician near you.

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