Many people think that they need antibiotics when they have a cold, cough or sore throat, but antibiotics don’t work on these kinds of illnesses which are caused by viruses. We need to ensure that we only use antibiotics in the right way and at the right time, otherwise they will stop being effective.
Most common infections will get better on their own without antibiotics. If you have an infection there are a few simple steps you can take to make yourself better:-
- Take paracetamol to reduce a fever; always follow the instructions
- Ask your pharmacist for advice on reducing your symptoms
- Get plenty of rest until you feel better
- Drink enough fluids to avoid feeling thirsty
- Use tissues when you sneeze to help stop infections spreading
- Wash your hands to help stop infections spreading
If you visit your GP practice and the doctor, nurse or healthcare professional explains that you don’t need antibiotics they may give you a card (as shown) explaining why “You have not been prescribed an antibiotic today”.
The cards include some practical advice for tackling conditions like colds.
Often the best thing is to take medicines like paracetamol to control your symptoms and keep well hydrated. Alternatively, you can visit a pharmacist, who will be able to advise on common illnesses like the cold and how best to manage them.
There are a number of self care fact sheets available below for some common illnesses. The fact sheets include useful facts, what you can expect to happen, what you can do and when you should seek medical help.