The Daily Quote: Snort, Sniffle, Sneeze…No Antibiotics, Please!

It’s that time again – cold & flu season!

As a school nurse, I treat a variety of illnesses & injuries on a daily basis. My door has been a turnstile of ick, sick, & yuck lately. Seasonal allergies, indoor allergies, & cold & flu viruses are rearing their ugly heads…all at once!

My students (and teachers) are miserable. And to tell you the truth…so am I. Sneezing. Sniffling. Runny noses, sinus pressure & headaches, ear aches, coughing, mucus, wheezing, rumbly tummies, chills & fevers, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea…the list goes on.

One important fact remains…

Any and/or ALL of these symptoms can be caused by viruses. Why is that so important?

Because antibiotics do NOT work on viruses.

slapping-batman-virus-meme

Examples of illnesses caused by viruses are:

  • Influenza (the flu)
  • Gastroenteritis (stomach flu)
  • RSV
  • Croup
  • Chickenpox
  • Most rashes
  • Many coughs

Antibiotics do not kill viruses. Treating these illnesses with antibiotics is ineffective & leads to antibiotic resistance. Some viruses, like the flu, pneumonia, & chickenpox can be prevented by getting vaccines.

Some illnesses that do require antibiotic treatment include:

  • Strep throat
  • Pneumonia
  • Many ear infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Sinus infections

How do we treat viruses, if we can’t kill them with antibiotics???

We treat the symptoms while the virus runs its course.

  • Rest – your body may need extra sleep and/or naps while it is fighting an infection.
  • Hydrate – drink plenty of fluids (non-sugary/non-caffeinated).
  • Treat fever, pain, and/or inflammation – Medications like Ibuprofen can treat all 3 of these symptoms. Read packaging & instructions carefully, as some over the counter medications contain more than one medicine.
  • Treat cough & mucus – a different cough medicine should be used for productive cough, to help clear mucus from the airways. A cool-mist humidifier will also help keep mucus thin & soothe irritated nasal passages & throat.

Click here for different types of cough medications & when to use what

  • Treat nausea/vomiting/diarrhea – Replenish electrolytes with Pedialyte or a similar electrolyte solution. Drink water & other clear liquids. Eat light until your stomach feels right. 
  • For the flu, your doctor may recommend you start taking Tamiflu as a treatment, to possibly lessen symptoms & shorten the course of the virus.
  • Non-medicinal treatments – There are a variety of ways to alleviate symptoms that involve no medication at all.
    • Warm compresses – for ear pain, stiff neck, head ache, & body aches
    • Warm soak – for body aches
    • Salt water gargle – for sore throat
    • Ginger root tea (honey optional) – for sore throat, cold, flu, & inflammation
    • Turmeric milk tea – calming, creamy, warm drink, thought to be effective in treating cold & flu symptoms. Turmeric & the flu.

 

Here’s a cute video released by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) just for fun: