It is a “prevailing myth” that antibiotics are needed to fight running noses and green phlegm, say doctors and public health experts. Research performed through Public Health England showed that “40% of people thought antibiotics would help a cough if the phlegm was green, while very few though it would make a difference to clear-colored phlegm.” In fact, the green color is a sign that the immune system is fighting the infection.
Most infections that generate phlegm are viral illnesses that will get better on their own. When antibiotics are used improperly to treat infections it can lead to antibiotic resistance, a much more serious health concern. Infections can adapt to antibiotics, which affect trillions of bacteria in the human body, and can ultimately make treatment ineffective. The problems of antibiotic resistance are growing because of the use of antibiotics for the treatment of uncomplicated infections.
When there is a lack of information, it leads to more decisions and a riskier situation. Most people do not understand “uncomplicated” infections or that antibiotics are ineffective and even harmful to the body when treating viral infections. People are increasing the risk to their lives by deciding how to improve their health based on inadequate information. The problem of antibiotic resistance can be minimized if more people gain a greater understanding of viral infections and know only to use antibiotics when necessary.
Antibiotics not for running noses, warns doctors – BBC News Health – November 17, 2013 – Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24957090