ZocdocAnswersDo antibiotics cure the common cold?

Question

Do antibiotics cure the common cold?

If I have a cold should I go to the doctor and get antibiotics? Do they cure the common cold?

Answer

No, antibiotics do not cure the common cold. It is a common misconception that when you get a runny nose and start to feel crummy that antibiotics will help. They will not make you feel better nor will they shorten the duration of your illness. With that said, many people still get prescriptions for antibiotics when they present to their doctors with a common cold. This is because sometimes doctors can't tell for sure that their is not a bacterial sinus infection going along with the cold. Also, some patients expect a prescription for antibiotics when they leave the office and this pressure can sometimes result in the doctor giving in. This is not the right thing to do. There are some illnesses such as the bacterial sinus infection that do need antibiotics. If your cold symptoms progress into painful tender sinuses (over the face), or fever, then you may need antibiotics. If you have these symptoms more than 1 week without any resolution, then you may need some treatment. I still think you should schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. Even if you don't need antibiotics, your doctor can help you feel better with medications that treat the symptoms of a cold.

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