Don’t waste antibiotics on cold and flu
You may have seen the billboard ads urging us to join the fight against antibiotic resistance. This is a campaign from the National Prescribing Service (NPS) to reduce our use of antibiotics in Australia, which is currently amongst the highest in the world.
It’s hard to imagine our world without antibiotics. Their use saves millions of lives every year, and there are many times when they are absolutely necessary. However, because of misuse resulting in antibiotic resistance, bacterial infections that were once easily cured with antibiotics are becoming harder to treat.
But what can we do when antibiotics are not really needed?
Many infections are caused by viruses rather than bacteria, so antibiotics won’t help in these situations. The NPS gives good advice on how to treat the symptoms while your body’s immune system fights off the infection.
You can also improve your ability to fight infection. There is evidence to support the use of zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D, and the herbal treatments echinacea and pelargonium in the treatment of colds and flus.
Zinc reduces the duration of the common cold, and studies show that it reduces the chance of picking up a cold. Studies in children show that zinc supplementation reduces the number of days off school.
Vitamin C helps to fight infections by enhancing immune system function. It increases the production of white blood cells and increases levels of the antibody that help to protect our cells against viruses. It reduces the duration and severity of symptoms of colds.
Low levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased susceptibility to infection. Our levels of vitamin D dip to their lowest in late winter, and studies suggest that as many as 50% of Australians are deficient in this vitamin.
If you make sure you have enough of these nutrients, exercise, sleep and eat well, your immune system will help you stay healthy this winter.
Please talk to us in the pharmacy or contact us for individual advice. T: 1300 882303