Why Do Doctors Recommend Against Antibiotics for Colds?

Antibiotics for Colds
Q:
Antibiotics for Colds

Why don’t antibiotics work on colds?

A:

Dr. Greene’s Answer:

Colds are caused by viruses, not bacteria. Over 200 different species of virus causing the common cold have been identified.

Antibiotics do not work at all in treating the common cold. A net designed to trap a human could let a tiny mouse escape. Antibiotics are medicines that kill bacteria, not viruses. Many antibiotics work by disrupting the bacteria’s cell wall. Viruses don’t even have a cell wall.

Antibiotics can actually make colds worse. By indiscriminately killing the beneficial bacteria, an environment more hospitable to the cold viruses is created.

Reviewed by: Khanh-Van Le-Bucklin, Rebecca Hicks
Last reviewed: August 28, 2008
Dr. Alan Greene

Article written by

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

 

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