Sometimes, antibiotics won’t help stop common bacterial infections, like most cases of bronchitis, sinus infections, and even some ear infections, all of which could be caused by a virus. Asking your doctor for an antibiotic if you have a viral infection will not make you feel better. Respiratory viruses will usually go away in a week or two without treatment, and your doctor can give you some tips on how to relieve your symptoms as your body fights off the virus
Not only will taking an antibiotic have no impact on a virus, taking one when it’s not needed can cause what’s known as antibiotic resistance. Essentially, antibiotic resistance is what happens when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them.
When I’m sick, I can’t tell if my illness is caused by bacteria or a virus. How will I know if I need an antibiotic?
Your doctor will tell you if your symptoms are being caused by bacteria, a virus, or something else. If your condition is a bacterial infection and your doctor prescribes antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Ask your doctor any questions you have and be sure to call your doctor’s office if you develop any side effects, especially diarrhea. That could be a sign of a Clostridium difficile (or C. diff) infection, which should be treated right away.