penicillin vs the common cold

I understand taking too little antibiotics and not finishing perscriptions can help create resistent bacteria. In terms of good old evolution, it makes sense.
However, the CDC has this to say about too much antibiotics:

What I dont understand is HOW? If I take antibiotics for a virus am I more likely to get an infection from a resistant bacteria?

Its seems like they imply that the virus turn into resistent bacteria, or maybe the resitant bacteria like the antibotics and infect me when the would have looked for greener pastures otherwise…or maybe its a bunch of alarmist propaganda.

You shouldn’t take antibiotics for a virus such as the cold; antibiotics do not kill viruses. Still, some doctors prescribe antibiotics for viral infections anyway, in part because patients get mad when the doctor tells them there’s no cure and they just need to get some rest and wait for it to pass.

Overuse and misuse of antibiotics causes the development of drug-resistant bacteria. You should only take antibiotics when it’s necessary and appropriate. If you take antibiotics for a cold, you’re not doing yourself a bit of good (the cold germs won’t respond to the drug) and you’re putting yourself at some risk of getting sick from bacteria that are resistant to the drug.

Your body normally contains a lot of bacteria. These are usually harmless; however, taking antibiotics kills off the harmless bacteria as well as the bad ones. This leaves plenty of opportunity for resistant bacteria to multiply. (It’s also the same reason why many women automatically get raging yeast infections whenever they take antibiotics- killing off your normal flora gives the yeast a chance to take over.)

Ok, yeast infections are caused by a fungus, not a bacteria.
The implication that there is a battle of good vs resistant bacteria, and that taking antibiotics somehow helps the resistent bacteria seems a bit fishy. Do you have any references to back it up?

I don’t have any references right now (my micro books are back in the lab) but think of it this way. One of the reasons it is relatively hard for pathogenic bacteria to colonize your gut, for example, is that the “good bacteria” are so numerous that there is literally no room for the “bad bacteria” to get a foothold and colonize.

Antibiotics kill a certain percentage of good and bad bacteria alike, but when good bacteria die, they leave space for any bad bacteria that have survived (the resistant strains) to colonize your body. And once you have pathogenic and resistant bacteria nicely settled into a part of your body, that’s a serious problem.

If I wanted smoke blown up my ass, I’d be at home with a pack of cigarettes and a short length of hose.

Falcon, listen to Holly! She knows her shit, and you apparently don’t.

Antibiotics DO NOT kill the viruses that cause the common cold. Taking antibiotics to treat a cold is just dumb. Using an automotive parallel, it’s like topping off the windshield washer fluid reservoir when the A/C ain’t workin’. DUMB.

Anyway, she didn’t say that “taking antibiotics somehow helps the resistent bacteria.” What she tried to tell you is that misuse of antibiotics can help bad germs that may not be bothering you at the moment to become BADDER germs that may bother you a LOT later on, and that may become used to the antibiotics you foolishly took before.

I don’t know why fortune smiles on some and lets the rest go free…



Gee, which one of us didn’t read the original question? Talk about not knowing shit.

This article is too important not to read.

It covers everything stated here and more.

Oh, for Heaven’s sake, Falcon! I read your OP, and I read everything between there and here. The principle that governs the answer to your original question has been explained rather well, I think.

And it’s “resistant.” It’s not “resistent” or “resitant.”

Geez, I’m arguing with non-spellers. What’s next?

I don’t know why fortune smiles on some and lets the rest go free…


Temper, temper everybody, we’re trying to stamp out ignorace first and foremost.

OK, as far as the OP goes, there are billions of micro-organisms (viral, fungal, bacterial) in/on every healthy person. Many of these are only pathogenic if they find their way into the wrong place or if you’re weakened. If you have a viral infection and you take antibiotics you will not alter the course of the viral infection. You will kill off much of the vulnerable bacteria, which opens up new real estate. No amount of ABx will make you sterile, it’s just a question of keeping the bugs down to a tolerable level. So who’s gonna move in to the new beach front property you’ve created? If you’re a woman, fungi, such as yeast, will happily move into your vagina. One of the things that the lactobacillus that usually live there do is maintain a pH balance the fungi don’t like (can we say symbiot, hard to tell). In fact, many of the bacterial antibiotics commonly used come from fungi originally, that’s how tight the competition is between them. If you have a colony of antibiotic resistant germs that your immune system has so far kept in check, they may take the opportunity, while you immune system is busy with the viral thing, to expand into the tissue that the vulnerable germs just left. Also, even if you have no resistant bugs on board, taking antibiotics inappropriately helps to grow them. They evolve.
Larry, RN

Forgot to add
A. This is not alarmist propaganda.

B. This is so well established that you can’t swing a dead cat in the health care community without finding a reference


And then you don’t provide one.?? Well nevermind. Evilgandhi was legendary dead cat wielding ability.

Is now a good time to mention cranberry juice?

<<<<< fleeing to relative safety. Relatively speaking. >>>>>


" If you want to kiss the sky, you’d better learn how to kneel. "

hmmmmm…I’ve always heard that you don’t take antibotics for a cold…that it won’t help…and yes doctors will prescribe them anyway to just keep patients happy

Sorry, I’m a BADDER speller than you.

It might help everyone out a bit if you check out this article:

Prior to EvilGhandis answer, I think not.

There is no such thing as a common cold. ‘Cold’ is a group of rhinoviruses, not one virus. Just like Chinese is not a language, but a group of languages.

You can indeed take antibiotics when you have a rhinovirus. Note that I said take them when you have a rhinovirus, not take them for it. Its pretty common if you get bronchitis along with it, to take antibiotics. If you don’t, you can get pneumonia.

Most of the time you can make people with a cold feel better by giving them Zinc…

I wont explain why superresitant strains can be created because those links already cover it.

I’d just like to add here that I did not mean to imply that yeast is bacteria, only that yeast is LIKE resistant bacteria in that it will rapidly colonize you when antibiotics have killed off the nonresistant bacteria.

In the ICU, you can observe this firsthand. Give a patient Vancomycin for a few days for some terrible infection, and his urine will turn white with yeast. His mouth will be coated with thrush. If he has an open wound that gets infected, there’s a good chance you’ll find VRE (Vancomycin resistant enteroccocus) growing there.

handy, you really should start backing up these kinds of statements with cites from a reliable source and not simply spout them out like they were Gospel.

Actually rhinoviruses only account for around 25% of common cold symptoms. The common cold can also be caused by coronavirus, parainfluenza virus, Respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus or influenzavirus.

Yeah and I can take antibiotics when I have a cheese sandwich too. I can take them on a boat, I can take them with a goat. Cute.

I dunno, maybe you’re trying to be amusing by playing with semantics but you’re potentially confusing the hell out of people too.

OK, but the antibiotics in that case are being used to treat the bronchitis that has presumably been diagnosed to be bacterial in origin. But it is important to note that bronchitis can also be the result of a viral infection. Which, once again, means that antibiotics would be useless.

Don’t lead people to believe that unless they are given antibiotics when they get a cold, they will eventually get pneumonia.

The point Holly, myself and others have been trying to make is that antibiotics are useless against the common cold and that taking antibiotics is a huge no-no unless you have a bacterial infection.

Alph, as you wish:,275.asp

“Diagnostic and Test Procedures
If your cold is nasty enough to send you to the
doctor, your physician will likely examine
your throat and ears and may take a throat
culture (brushing your throat with a long
cotton-tipped swab) to determine if you have
a bacterial infection, which requires treatment
with antibiotics.”

"… Cold symptoms are triggered
when a virus attaches itself to the lining of
your nasal passages or throat. Your immune
system responds by attacking the germ with
white blood cells called neutrophils. If your
immune system cannot recognize the virus, the
response is “nonspecific,” meaning your body
produces as many neutrophils as possible
(usually more than are needed) and circulates
them to the infected sites. This all-out attack
kills many viruses, but it doesn’t affect the 200
or so viruses that cause colds. Extra
neutrophils clumping together at infection
sites is what causes the achiness and
inflammation of a cold, complete with vast
amounts of mucus in the nose and throat. "

And, last but not least:

rhi•no•vi•rus 'ri-no-"vi-res\ noun [NL] (1961)
: any of a group of picornaviruses that are related to the enteroviruses and are associated with disorders of the upper respiratory tract (as the common cold)

©1996 Zane Publishing, Inc. and Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
Ah, see, easy.

Is there something specific you’d like me to reference, Falcon?

Yet another dictionary entry. Swell.

I never disputed that rhinoviruses cause common cold symptoms, just that the common cold is not simply “a group of rhinoviruses”.

And yes, antibiotics should be administered to those with bacetrial infections. No argument there again. But bronchitis can be a viral disease, too.

Look, maybe I’m being snippy, but antibiotic resistant bugs are a serious medical issue. I am amazed at how even educated people (including many of my biomedically-oriented colleagues) “feel better” when given an antibiotic for symptoms that are, statistically speaking, rarely bacterial in origin.

Unless you have been diagnosed with a bacterial infection, antibiotics should not be taken.

"oof•ah 'oof-"ah\ interjection. [NL] (1975)
: enough already
: put a sock in it
: see oy vey

©1996 Zane Publishing, Inc. and Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. All rights reserved."