Use as often as necessary and as rarely as possible – this is a general rule concerning antibiotics, repeated by the specialists. Unfortunately, these tend to be overused, and administered e.g. for treating cold, which is usually caused by viruses that are not affected by antibiotics.

Antibiotics are effective only against bacterial and fungal infections.

“Therefore, if the patient lacks any clinical symptoms of a bacterial infection (for instance, pussy discharge from the nose or pus-filled spots on the tonsils), administering antibiotic treatment is a mistake," explains Marek Posobkiewicz, Acting Chief Sanitary Inspector.

Why is overusing antibiotics dangerous?

Prof. Bolesław Samoliński, National Consultant on Public Health, highlights that abused antibiotics not only do not treat, but can even be harmful by weakening the immune system.

Antibiotic overuse also makes bacteria more resistant to them, consequently making the treatment of bacterial infections more and more difficult.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta have already warned that if no appropriate action is taken, we are “at risk of returning to the pre-antibiotic era," which will make it impossible to perform orthopaedic surgical procedures, organ transplants, chemotherapy and other medical procedures.

If not antibiotics, then what?

According to Prof. Samoliński, catching a cold is something completely normal, yet it does not warrant continuing a normal lifestyle. A cold requires, first and foremost, “getting warmer," which here means staying in bed, that way heating the organism to the proper temperature and relieving the cardiovascular system.

“We have observed the largest incidence of complications in people who continue working while infected," cautioned Prof. Samoliński.

He also recommended using over-the-counter drugs to all suffering from cold. They will not make the infection shorter, but can alleviate its symptoms – unclog the nose, reduce the fever and alleviate the cough.

Alleviating symptoms is very important, as – according to the specialist – if the nose remains clogged for too long, a bacterial infection can occur due to anaerobic conditions.

And then there is no escape from antibiotics.