(NAPSI)—Flu season is upon us and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants patients and families to remember that prescription antiviral drugs, not antibiotics, are the treatment for influenza (flu). Antibiotics do not treat viruses that cause colds and the flu. They are only needed for treating certain infections caused by bacteria.
Remember that the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu is by getting your annual flu vaccine. It’s not too late to get vaccinated.
KNOW WHAT’S GOT YOU SICK
Viruses cause infections like the common cold, flu, runny noses and most sore throats, and none of these are treated with antibiotics. Illnesses like strep throat, pneumonia and whooping cough are examples of illnesses caused by bacteria that can be treated with antibiotics.
ANTIBIOTICS AREN’T ALWAYS THE ANSWER
If you have the flu, taking antibiotics won’t help to treat your flu illness. It is important to remember that any time you take antibiotics it can lead to antibiotic resistance and cause side effects.
Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health and occurs when bacteria become resistant to the antibiotics designed to kill them. Antibiotic side effects range from minor—e.g., rash, dizziness, nausea, yeast infections—to very severe health problems, e.g., life-threatening allergic reactions or Clostridium difficile infection (also called C. difficile or C. diff), which causes diarrhea that can lead to severe colon damage or death.
When a patient needs antibiotics, the benefits outweigh the risks of side effects. Antibiotics save lives and are critical tools for treating a number of common infections like pneumonia and life-threatening conditions like sepsis.
You can protect yourself and others from the flu in three steps.
1) Get vaccinated. Everyone 6 months or older should get a yearly flu vaccine.
2) Stop the spread of germs by avoiding close contact with sick people. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Clean your hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water.
3) If you get sick, take antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.
FIND OUT HOW TO FEEL BETTER
Most healthy people with the flu have mild illness and recover in less than two weeks without needing medical care or antiviral drugs. If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.
If, however, you have flu symptoms and are at high risk of having complications from flu, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your healthcare professional. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs to treat your illness. People at high risk of having complications from flu include young children, people 65 years of age and older, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions.
Visit www.cdc.gov/flu for information about the flu.