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Why isn’t my doctor giving me an antibiotic?

It is common for people to think that their doctor will prescribe them an antibiotic to “cure” their cold, flu of bronchitis, and they are surprised when their doctor does not. The truth is health care providers should not and usually do not prescribe antibiotics for these types of infections. Antibiotics only work against bacterial infections. Most colds and bronchitis infections are caused by viruses, not bacteria. Antibiotics will not work to cure them.

So why not at least give antibiotics a try? For years, health care providers have admittedly over-prescribed antibiotics for colds and bronchitis. Many patients have had experiences where they were prescribed an antibiotic and felt much better in a few days. But studies have consistently shown people who were prescribed a sugar pill got better at the same speed as those patients on antibiotics – the body simply healed itself, although the patients were giving credit to the antibiotics.

There are times when symptoms or a potential bacterial infection are present and antibiotics are appropriate. Your healthcare provider can determine if antibiotics are necessary and will be effective.