Is My Cough A Virus Or Does It Need Antibiotics?

At this time of the year, there are some pretty persistent and virulent strains of viral infections going around.

These typically present as sore throat, headache, feeling hot and cold, a cough which is only really productive first thing in the morning and aching all over. You may get a temperature with it, but it is very unlikely to be persistent. These are frequently lasting over 2 weeks.

These are unlikely to respond to antibiotics as antibiotics only get rid of bacterial infections and do not make any difference to viral infections. It is best to use simple cough linctus , paracetamol, steam inhalation and ensure you are drinking plenty of fluids. Your pharmacist will help guide you through what is available but as rule of thumb, own brand products are likely to be cheaper than the branded ones. (for instance Nurofen is identical to ibuprofen)

If your temperature is persistently high, and you are bringing up coloured sputum (or blood) throughout the day then this may be bacterial and it would be worth consulting a GP.

Please also note that if you have any underlying chronic disease then we sometimes need to treat flu’ with medication that isn’t an antibiotic.

It goes without saying that this is only a guide and if you are concerned that you may have a bacterial infection you should contact your GP.

It may be worth looking at this link for more information Why wasn’t I prescribed antibiotics