HAMMOND, LA (WVUE) - Local health experts have a message for parents this cold and flu season: Taking an antibiotic is not the right choice.
Dr. Robert Peltier says parents need to know that antibiotics won't work if you or your child get sick with a cold or the flu.
"Even my father-in-law calls me and says, 'You know can you call me in some antibiotics.' And I have to have a long question-and-answer session with him about his symptoms because your doctor is the expert. There's a reason why we've gone to school for all these years," said Peltier, who is the chief medical officer of the North Oaks Health System in Hammond.
Even though a campaign called "Get Smart About Antibiotics" has been around over the years at the North Oaks, health experts say some people still aren't getting the message. They want you to know that antibiotics only work on a bacterial infection, not a virus like the cold.
"Most sore throats are viral but some of them are strep throat - that's a bacteria. When it is strep we would know what antibiotic you use. Simple penicillins work really well for strep throat," said Peltier.
And, experts say it's important not to take an antibiotic when you don't need one. It's to prevent "super bugs," which are bacteria that are drug-resistant. According to the CDC's website, "antibiotic resistance is a growing problem and the main cause of this problem is misuse of antibiotics."
"It's very scary because now the infections have gotten to where they're lasting longer, they're much more serious, and, unfortunately, some of them can result in death. So the rate of resistance is increasing rapidly, and unfortunately the rate that the new antibiotics are coming out is not increasing as rapidly," said North Oaks Health System pharmacist Jamie Covington.
Peltier says you should trust your doctor to know when it's the right time to use an antibiotic. If you don't need one, make sure you rest, drink lots of fluids, and there are over-the-counter medications that can treat your symptoms.
"So, those simple things of, don't push yourself, rest your body, eat well, when you get up it's not the time to, you know, continue to push that exercise program where you're out running 5 miles. Maybe it's the time for those couple of days to rest, let your body heal, your body is much better at treating infections than any antibiotic that we get," said Peltier.
Peltier says having an infection or a virus like the flu can make you more susceptible to a bacterial infection. If you notice any new symptoms like a new fever or still feel bad after a few days, make sure you talk to your doctor.