NEW CITY – Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert remind residents that if you have a cold or flu, antibiotics won’t work for you.
When you feel sick, you want to feel better fast; but antibiotics aren’t the answer for every illness.
Most illnesses are caused by two kinds of germs: bacteria or viruses. “Antibiotics can cure infections caused by bacteria, but not infections caused by viruses (such as colds or flu, most coughs and bronchitis, sore throats not caused by strep bacteria, or runny noses). Taking antibiotics for viral infections will not cure the infections, keep other people from catching the illness, or help you feel better,” said Dr. Ruppert.
Get smart about antibiotics by following these tips:
- Prevent infections by practicing good hand washing and getting recommended vaccines. Washing your hands is one of the best ways to keep yourself and your family healthy by preventing the spread of germs that cause infections. Vaccinations help prevent infections that may require antibiotics and helps prevent diseases from spreading.
- Do not ask for antibiotics when your doctor thinks you do not need them. Remember antibiotics have side effects. When your doctor says you don’t need an antibiotic, taking one may do more harm than good. Instead ask for the best treatment for your illness.
- Only take antibiotics prescribed for you; do not share or use leftover antibiotics. Antibiotics treat specific types of infections. Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment and allow bacteria to multiply.
- Ask if watchful waiting is right for you. For some illnesses, your doctor may recommend watchful waiting, meaning waiting a few days to see if you get better before deciding to prescribe antibiotics.
- Ask about side effects. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any side effects of the antibiotics.
- Take the antibiotic exactly as your doctor prescribes. Even if you feel better, do not skip doses or stop taking an antibiotic early without approval from your doctor.
- Never save antibiotics for future illnesses. Discard any leftover medication once the prescribed course of treatment is completed. Rockland County’s “Operation Medicine Cabinet” collects all outdated, unused and unwanted medications including all controlled substances and non-controlled substances. Visit www.rocklandcountysheriffoffice.com/medicine_cabinet.html for more information.
Taking an antibiotic when it is not needed can lead to the development of antibiotic resistance. Although some people think a person becomes resistant to specific drugs, it is the bacteria, not the person, that become resistant to the drugs. When resistance develops, antibiotics may not be able to stop future infections. Every time someone takes an antibiotic they don’t need, they increase their risk of developing a resistant infection in the future.
When you use antibiotics correctly, you do the best for your health, your family’s health, and the health of those around you. For more information talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or visit the New York State Department of Health website at https://tinyurl.com/brywvez.