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NEWS | Jan. 3, 2020

What’s got you sick, when to take antibiotics

By 66th Medical Squadron 66th Medical Squadron

With cold and flu season officially underway, community members may wonder what the best treatments are and when antibiotics are the answer.

Personnel with the Center for Disease and Control recommend only bacterial infections be treated with an antibiotic. These conditions are, but not limited to, strep throat, whooping cough and urinary tract infections. There are some conditions that could be either bacterial or viral, such as sinus and ear infections, which may or may not warrant antibiotics.  

“Common viral infections include the common cold, a runny nose, sore throat and the flu,” said Capt. Walter Donoghue, 66th Medical Squadron clinical nurse and infection preventionist. “General symptoms of a common cold patients may experience are a fever lasting two to three days, nasal discharge for one to two weeks, and a cough from two to three weeks.”

To help symptoms of the common cold at home, officials advise personnel to:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer. 
  • Use saline nasal spray or drops. 
  • For young children, use a rubber suction bulb to clear mucus.
  • Breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water or shower 
  • Suck on lozenges. However, do not give lozenges to children younger than 4 years of age. 
  • Use honey to relieve cough for adults and children at least 1 year old. 

Personnel are urged to alert their healthcare providers if they experience:

  • Difficulty breathing or fast breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Fever that lasts longer than four days
  • Symptoms that last more than 10 days without improvement
  • Symptoms, such as fever or cough, that improve but then return or worsen
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

“This list is not all inclusive,” Donoghue said. “You should see a doctor for any symptom that is severe or concerning.”

Personnel can also ask their doctor or pharmacist about over-the-counter medications. Such medications should always be taken as directed, and although they may provide temporary relief of symptoms, they may not cure an illness, Donoghue said.

“Always check the container, or with your physician, before giving over-the-counter medication to children,” Donoghue said.

Additional information and guidelines regarding medicine for children visit

Medical officials encourage all personnel to do their part in staying healthy and keeping others healthy.

To combat the spread of germs and colds, Donoghue recommends: 

  • Wash your hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who have colds or other upper respiratory infections.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • If ill, wear a mask when around other people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke.

“We have to remember that colds are viruses, and no medicine or magic shot can cure them completely,” said Donoghue. “It’s up to all of us to keep our community healthy.”