Cold and Flu Myth:

Antibiotics can cure a cold or the flu.

Nope, not true. It is a very common misconception that antibiotics can be used to cure the common cold or flu.

In a study published by the Oxford Journal of Clinical Infections Diseases, a majority of patients were willing to take antibiotics for conditions likely to have a viral origin, such as flu, sore throat, cough or earache.

However, antibiotics kill bacteria and specifically treat bacterial infections. Common colds and the flu are caused by viruses, not bacteria. Antibiotics do not help fight viruses. Additionally, taking antibiotics for a viral infection may do more harm than good: using antibiotics when they are not needed — and cannot treat the illness — increases the risk of a resistant infection later.Antibiotics may be used to treat bacterial infections that may result from a viral infection, but not the viral infection itself.


Jean Claude Pechere. Oxford Journals of Clinical Infectious Diseases. Patients’ Interviews and Misuse of Antibiotics; Retrieved from: December 28, 2011.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Antibiotics Aren’t Always the Answer. Retrieved from:; December 28, 2011.

Mississippi State Department of Health. Colds, Flu and Antibiotics. Retrieved from:,1652,228.html; Retrieved December, 28, 2011