98point6 Physician Erin Jones, MD on Why Antibiotics Aren’t Always the Best Medicine


You feel lousy. You’re certain it’s a sinus infection—just like last year. And like last year, you know that antibiotics will clear up the infection and make you feel better. But are antibiotics the answer? Were they even the correct answer back then?

THE REALITY

“According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), if you are suffering from a viral illness and it’s treated as bacterial (with antibiotics), there will be no benefit,” says Dr. Jones. Frequent use of antibiotics can result in a decreased impact over time—meaning they won’t be as effective when you actually do need them. Also worth considering: antibiotics may come with side effects (upset stomach, loss of appetite), and as with any medication, there’s always potential for an allergic reaction.

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?

The use and overuse of antibiotics in food, medications and industry is among the most concerning trends in healthcare over the last 50 years. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) each have statements describing the importance of preventing the overuse and over-prescribing of antibiotics.

DR. JONES SAYS:

Given the information noted above, it’s important that physicians adhere to established guidelines when upholding the highest standards of patient care. 

As a physician, I want my patients to feel better. I also want to make sure they feel heard and understood, and are provided with all the information they need to safely and effectively get to the bottom of their medical issues. This starts by setting the proper expectations around which treatment is most appropriate for viral (or non-bacterial) illnesses. 

ANTIBIOTICS ARE NOT EFFECTIVE AGAINST: 

  • Common cold
  • Viral sinus infection (almost all sinusitis is viral) 
  • Viral sore throat
  • Viral bronchitis
  • Influenza
  • COVID-19

DR. JONES SAYS:

IF YOU HAVE A VIRAL ILLNESS:

The best thing a physician can do is support the body while it fights the illness, which can last up to 7–14 days. This means treating the symptoms such as hacking cough, congested sinuses and sore throat so you have a better day-to-day experience and can get the nightly rest you need.

IF YOU HAVE A BACTERIAL ILLNESS:

Antibiotics may be the preferred course of action. Trust that your physician will take each visit on a case-by-case basis and evaluate whether antibiotics are appropriate, as well as the fact that the treatment that worked in the past may not be appropriate today.

STILL NOT GETTING BETTER?

It’s not uncommon to get a secondary infection when your immune system is already compromised. The beauty of 24/7 text-based care through 98point6 is that if you aren’t feeling better—or if you start feeling worse—you can start a follow-up visit as soon as you need. At that time, we’re happy to address whatever new or lingering symptoms you may be experiencing, always with the goal of providing you with the highest standard of care. 

Wondering if your symptoms may be related to an infection? Start a visit now.

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