A lot of people think taking antibiotics is the best course of action if they have a sore throat. This is often not true. Most sore throats should be treated with conservative care. Science Daily reported on Oct. 4, 2013, "Antibiotics Drastically Overprescribed for Sore Throats, Bronchitis."
Mayo Clinic writes that the most common cause of a sore throat is a viral infection, such as occurs with a cold or the flu. A sore throat which is caused by a virus resolves on its own with at-home supportive care. Strep throat, or streptococcal infection, is a less common type of sore throat which is caused by bacteria, and requires additional treatment with antibiotic drugs in order to prevent complications.
The majority of people who see their doctors for sore throats or acute bronchitis are prescribed antibiotics, however, only a small percentage should. Most sore throats are caused by viruses, and antibiotics, which only target bacterial infections, do not help.
Researchers from Harvard determined that doctors prescribed antibiotics in 60 percent of visits for sore throats and in 73 percent of visits for acute bronchitis. They have said that the antibiotic prescribing rate should instead be about 10 percent for sore throats and just about zero for acute bronchitis. This study has been published in JAMA.
It has been discovered that the inappropriate use of antibiotics nurtures the creation of drug-resistant bacteria, or "superbugs," which are very difficult to treat and present a public health threat. Furthermore, when people take antibiotics they don't need for viral infections, they're taking a chance with side effects as they put something in their bodies that they don't need. Adverse drug reactions with antibiotics include allergies, yeast infections and nausea.
Jeffrey A. Linder, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, says that the majority of sore throats and cases of acute bronchitis should simply be treated with rest, fluids and using a humidifier, and don't require a visit to the doctor. Of course good nutrition is also important in treatment to help boost the immune system.
A cough with runny nose and hoarseness generally are signs that a sore throat is viral, and not caused by strep. Clearly, patients should be educated about these facts along with their doctors and nurses in order to help them understand it is not generally a good idea to demand antibiotics to treat every sore throat which comes along.