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Health Tip: When Antibiotics May Help

-- Antibiotics are effective against bacterial infections, but they can't combat infections caused by viruses.

Here are some guidelines from the American Academy of Family Physicians on when antibiotics may be needed:

  • Most colds and flus are caused by viruses, and won't respond to antibiotics.
  • Bronchitis and coughs are often caused by viruses, but if they persist, there may also be a bacterial infection that will respond to antibiotics.
  • While sore throats are usually caused by viruses, strep throat is a bacterial infection that requires antibiotic treatment.
  • Some ear infections are caused by viruses, and some by bacteria. Your doctor will decide if an antibiotic can help.
  • Sinus infections are usually bacterial, and need treatment with antibiotics.
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Posted: August 2007