5 Signs You Need an Antibiotic


Antibiotics are prescribed by a doctor to treat a bacterial illness. It does not work against viruses.

Knowing whether an infection is bacterial or viral aids in its treatment.

Most upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs), such as the common cold and flu, are caused by viruses. Antibiotics are ineffective against these viruses.

Antibiotic resistance may develop if people overuse or misuse antibiotics. As a result of the bacterium's ability to develop its defenses, the antibiotic becomes less effective against that type of bacterium.

A broad-spectrum antibiotic can be prescribed by a doctor to treat a variety of ailments. A limited-spectrum antibiotic is only effective against a small number of germs.

Some antibiotics are effective against aerobic bacteria, whereas others are effective against anaerobic bacteria. Aerobic microorganisms require oxygen, whereas anaerobic bacteria do not.

In rare situations, such as before surgery, a healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics to prevent rather than treat an infection. This is known as 'prophylactic' antibiotic usage.

When it comes to antibiotics, doctors follow some criteria, but it's still a gray area. On the basis of symptoms alone, it is difficult to identify a severe viral infection from a mild-to-moderate bacterial illness.

When deciding whether to provide an antibiotic, clinicians frequently rely on their spider senses—a blend of experience and science. Here are five factors that most doctors evaluate while making that decision.

1. Fever

If you have a fever, tremors, and chills, you may have a bacterial infection; however, some symptoms are also typical with a viral sickness like the flu. Physicians will assess your risk of catching the flu—is it currently spreading in your area? How many flu patients has he or she seen that day? —against the risk of bacterial infection.

If you have a fever and the flu is widespread in your neighborhood, you will most likely leave the doctor's office without an antibiotic. Get a flu vaccination next year.

2. How long you've been sick

Viral infections that persist for an extended period of time can occasionally progress to a more serious condition, such as a sinus infection, and bacteria may become involved. If your symptoms have been present for several weeks, your chances of receiving an antibiotic increase.

However, because long-term symptoms are usually caused by a virus rather than bacteria, this isn't the best technique to assess whether you need antibiotics.

3. The color of your nasal secretions

During a viral infection, nasal secretions are thin and clear, however green or yellow mucus can indicate a bacterial infection.

However, this one is challenging since most greenish discharges are viral. Overall, the color of mucus is regarded as an unreliable predictor of the need for an antibiotic.

4. Sore throat

Although it is red and appears to be a bacterial infection, your physician may search for white spots before prescribing an antibiotic.

Most colds begin with a painful throat; however, a sore throat without accompanying cold symptoms (such as a runny nose) can be strep throat, which requires medications to stop the deadly bacteria.

To be certain, a culture or fast antigen test, which takes less than 20 minutes and may be performed while you wait, is required.

5. Testing

A lab test is the only sure way to know if you really need an antibiotic. A physician can take a throat swab or collect a sample of body muck (anything you can cough up or blow out of your nose). A culture, in which germs are grown and analyzed in the lab, can take a day or two. Doctors frequently skip the money and effort of a lab test if they believe they can make a best-guess conclusion based on the symptoms listed above. 

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Sunday, 21 April 2024