Young boy with flu

It's Flu Season

Antibiotics won't help if you have a virus like the flu or a cold.

Feel Better Soon Without Antibiotics

Antibiotics won't help if you have a virus like the flu or a cold. They can actually cause problems later called "antibiotic resistance."

What are viruses?

Viruses are germs that can cause infections such as a cold, the flu, and bronchitis. A virus can travel through the air and enter your body when a sick person coughs or sneezes. Your body will try to fight and kill the virus. If your body can’t kill the virus right away, then you will start to feel sick in 1-2 days.

What are antibiotics?

Antibiotics are medications that treat infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotics do not kill viruses. Antibiotics do not cure or lessen cold and flu symptoms. Instead, overuse can lead to “antibiotic resistance.”

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance happens when antibiotics lose their power to kill bacteria. This happens when we use antibiotics that are not needed or do not take them as directed.

Prevent antibiotic resistance now!

Take antibiotics ONLY when prescribed by your doctor. NEVER share antibiotics or take leftovers. Take ALL your antibiotics, even if you start to feel better. Finish ALL your pills. Do not save them for later.

When will my doctor prescribe antibiotics?

Only a doctor, nurse practitioner, or doctor assistant can tell if you need an antibiotic. They will write a prescription for you.

Wash your hands!

Washing your hands often is one of the best ways to prevent getting sick.

  • Use soap and water and scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds before rinsing.
  • Hand sanitizers don’t kill all germs – soap and water is best!

Medications can make you feel better when you have the flu

*Talk to your doctor or a pharmacist if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking other medica­tions before taking over-the-counter medications. Consult your doctor for symptom relief.
**Brand names are listed as examples and do not imply endorsement. (Also look for generic store brands.)

In addition to medications (or in place of), below are some home remedies for treating viruses:

We would like to thank the CMA Foundation for allowing us to adapt this publication.

All Colds and Viral Infections
  • Drink plenty of fluids (like water and soup)
  • Stay home and rest
Stuffy Nose
  • Use a room humidifieer
  • Salt water nose drops or spray
Runny Nose
  • For red, raw nose, put petroleum jelly or salve on the exterior
  • Use tissue with lotion
Dry Cough
  • Use a room humidifier
  • Gargle with warm salt water
Moist Cough
  • Drink more fluids
Sore Throat
  • Gargle with warm salt water
  • Avoid smoke
  • Drink tea
Fever / Muscle Aches
  • Cool compress on the forehead
  • Warm compress on sore muscles
  • Bed rest
Itchy, Watery Eyes / Sneezing
  • Avoid things you are alleric to or that cause irritation
Ear Ache
  • Warm compress against the sore ear