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Truth about antibiotics

Although effective in treating bacterial infections, antibiotics is no cure for illness like colds and coughs, says study.

health and fitness Updated: Feb 04, 2008 13:54 IST

Britain's National Health Service (NHS) has asked doctors not to unnecessarily prescribe antibiotics to patients for minor illnesses.

Antibiotics are powerful drugs used to treat or prevent bacterial infections. But minor illness such as colds, coughs and sore throats are caused by viruses and hence cannot be cured with antibiotics, the NHS said.

The health body said bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics and action was necessary to protect the efficacy of the drugs that people have, reported the online edition of BBC News.

"The more we take antibiotics when they are not necessary, the more bacteria will become resistant to them," said Liam Donaldson, chief medical officer for England. The NHS is urging doctors to make it clear to patients that antibiotics will not get rid of minor illnesses.

"Patients can take other remedies to help relieve the symptoms of a cough or cold," Donaldson said.

It is also vital that when a patient is prescribed antibiotics they finish the course and do not stop taking them as soon as they feel better, he added.