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What infections should not be treated with antibiotics?

Antibiotics should not be used to treat viral infections. Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections. Where the confusion can lie is that antibiotics have no use against viral pathogens and viral illnesses. A lot of the common illnesses that people get that cause sore throats, ear pain, and coughs, wind up being caused by viruses. These illnesses will not be affected by antibiotics. Taking antibiotics in that scenario can cause some unintended consequences that a lot of people don't realize.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

Viral infections that should not be treated with antibiotics include:

  • colds
  • flu
  • most coughs and bronchitis
  • sore throats (except for those resulting from strep throat)
  • some ear infections

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.