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Antibiotics for the Flu?

When can antibiotics help, and when do they hurt?

How Do I Know if I Need Antibiotics for Flu Complications?

But here’s the problem: How is a person who’s laid up in bed, coughing and miserable, to know whether he or she has the flu or a bacterial complication from the flu? Since the symptoms are so similar, it can be hard to tell.

However, experts say that flu complications tend to show up in a standard pattern. It goes like this: you get sick from the flu, often very suddenly, and feel just awful; after a week or so, you start to feel better; but then you suddenly get worse.

“That’s the classic presentation of a secondary bacterial infection from the flu,” Hay tells WebMD. “Feeling better and then feeling worse.”

If you do have a secondary bacterial infection, you need to follow your doctor’s advice when it comes to taking your medicine. Most importantly, use the whole course of antibiotics for flu complications. Hay says it’s pretty common for people to take their antibiotics for a few days, feel better, and then forget about taking the rest. That’s a bad idea.

“You have to finish the whole prescription,” says Hay. “If you don’t, some of the bacteria might remain in your body.” That could make you sick again and lead to antibiotic drug resistance.

On the other hand, you shouldn’t take doses higher than what you’ve been prescribed either. That could lead to antibiotic overdose. Like any drug overdose, it can be dangerous. Just follow the instructions you see on the prescription bottle’s label.

Dealing With Your Doctor

These days, we’re all supposed to be active patients. We’re supposed to take some responsibility for our own health instead of politely waiting for our doctor to tell us what to do.

While that’s all well and good, it doesn’t mean that you should demand antibiotics from your doctor at the first sign of a runny nose. They won’t help.

You might ask, what’s the harm of taking antibiotics just in case you get a bacterial infection after the flu?

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