Antibiotics – do you really need them?

It has been estimated that in the last year £100 million has been wasted on 23 million prescriptions to fight infections that will have no effect. Think what could be done with that money. Its a shameful waste and we all have to start taking some personal responsibility for our own health.

The facts are that antibiotics dont work on colds, coughs, sore throats or the flu. And unless you are under two, elderly or have health complications you should not be asking your GP for antibiotics unless the symptoms become severe.

In the last decade alone, E coli has become 10% more resistant to antibiotics. If we continue taking antibiotics for viral infections our resistance may go down as well. Dont get me wrong, I am not against antibiotics at all. However they should be treated with great respect and used for severe bacterial infections like UTI’s and pneumonia.

If you have a cold, cough, sore throat or flu symptoms, try and boost your immune system naturally or try over the counter medication for symptomatic relief.

Here are some basic tips to help relieve the symptoms of viral infections:

1. Drink plenty of fluids – particularly water. Try hot lemon and honey which is particularly good for sore throats and laryngitis. Diluted vegetable juices, herb teas and infusions are fine.

2. Eat clean simple foods like home made vegetable soup, chicken soup if you have the flu, casseroles are a good complete meal (include ginger and garlic), fruit and vegetables and whole grains. Avoid refined foods, coffee and cheese if you have lots of mucous as this can make it worse.

3. Try echinacea tincture if you feel you are coming down with a virus and 1g of vitamin c daily. This wont necessarily stop you getting ill, but will help the immune system fight the infection. A multivitamin with extra zinc (at least 10mg) may help as well.

4. Wash your hands. This can reduce your infection by as much as 70%. Think where you have been during the day and how many surfaces you have touched!

5. If the virus is bad, do take time off work if you can and go to bed or rest. Often we go back to work too soon and infect everyone else in the office and dont take enough time to recover!

6. Stay warm, do not get chilled.

7. Try Olbas Oil or a similar natural decongestant that can be breathed in or put in a hankie and sniffed and try zinc lozenges for sore throats. Go to www.olbas.co.uk for a range of vapourisers, tissues, inhalants and lozenges.

8. Avoid sugar as its thought this can impair the immune system due to the fact that glucose and vitamin C complete for transport sites in the white blood cells. With this in mind do not think that drinking litres of orange juice will help you. Not only can it be high in sugar but the amount of vitamin C can vary dramatically.

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