Home Care

Bacteria or virus – why does it matter?

(NC) Bacteria and viruses can both cause infections. And fever. It is important to know the difference between the two.

Antibiotics can treat the bacterial infection only.

Brush up on your bacteria and virus facts. You will know what to do if you or your family gets sick.

Bacteria. What am I dealing with? Bacteria are single-celled organisms. Most of which do not cause any harm to people. Many are good bacteria. Including some that live in your intestines and help digest food. Some bacteria can cause infections. Like pneumonia. Strep throat and tonsillitis.

What do I do? Your doctor will need to confirm a bacterial infection, before prescribing antibiotics. Antibiotics are medications that work against bacteria. Either by killing them. Or stopping them from multiplying. It is important to take antibiotics exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. This is to help prevent antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change. The antibiotics used to treat the bacteria become less efficient. And sometimes do not work at all. Do not share your antibiotics with anyone!  Return unused medicine to the pharmacy for safe disposal.

Virus. What am I dealing with? Viruses need living hosts to survive. They cause many common infections. Viruses are responsible for all-too-familiar illnesses. Like the common cold. Flu and chickenpox. Viral infections often get better without antibiotic treatment. Some can also be preventable by a vaccine. If symptoms persist and you are concerned, talk to your healthcare provider.

What do I do? Viruses are self-limiting illnesses. They usually get better on their own. With time and rest. Ask a healthcare provider, such as a pharmacist, to recommend ways to reduce pain. Fever and other symptoms associated with viral infections. Remember that antibiotics treat bacterial infections. And are not effective against viral infections. The best way to treat a viral infection is to rest. And drink fluids.

Find more information at canada.ca/antibiotics.


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