ResistanceMechanisms Article Summary:

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.

Article reference: 

Antibiotics not for running noses, warns doctors – BBC News Health – November 17, 2013 – Retrieved from


Comments (4)

  1. Josh


    I feel that the beginning line of the article is a dead giveaway to uncertainty with the words “prevailing myth.” As the IMT makes clear, the more uncertainty there is about a subject, risk increases and so does stress levels. I feel that this is a helpful article with trying to find a solution to somebody who is potentially worried about NOT taking antibiotics when sick. Therefore I feel in order to make an educated guess, more information about this topic is needed.

  2. Ethan


    This is a good example of increased risk because of lack of information. I would hope that medical professionals would know enough to not prescribe a patient based on the patients best judgement of whether or not they need antibiotics. That it why the doctors are the experts and we should trust them to know what they are talking about.

  3. Teja


    People are just unaware of using antibiotics, they should know what antibiotics does, antibiotics just suppresses the viral for short time, after certain time infections resurface now even more stronger than the first ones,. one should take antibiotics as a last option to treat their infections.

  4. Serb Brar


    I agree that a greater knowledge of this in the general populous would definitely lead to a reduction in the use of antibiotics. However, it is especailly interesting to see that doctors still prescripe antibiotics even in these instances because people need to get prescriptions in order to buy these antibiotics. It’s especially important as overprescribing antibiotics has led to resistant bacteria (as you stated) but it’s gotten to the point where there’s been a vacuum created with no new antibiotics being created because it has gotten to the point where new antibiotics are too toxic for consumption.

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