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Antibiotic Awareness Week

Posted on November 25th, 2022

This week is Antibiotic Awareness Week so we thought we’d share some relevant and useful information with our patients.

Now that winter is here, there are more cold and flu viruses circulating. Many patients believe that antibiotics will help with their viral infection but in most cases they aren’t the right treatment. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections, not viral infections. Below is some guidance on self-care and information on how long most conditions will last. If you find your symptoms continue beyond the suggested time frames or are getting significantly worse, then seek help from either a Pharmacist or your GP Practice.

How can I treat a common infection?

  • Get plenty of rest until you feel better.
  • Take pain relief if you need to (make sure you follow the instructions).
  • Drink plenty of fluids (6 to 8 drinks, or 2 litres) so that you pass pale-coloured urine regularly.


  • For coughs, try honey and cough medicines.
  • For sore throats, try medicated lozenges and pain relief.
  • Soothe eye infections with a clean warm or cold damp flannel.
  • For an outer ear infection, apply local heat (such as a warm flannel).

How long could my infection last?

  • Cough: 21 days
  • Sore throat or earache: 7 to 8 days
  • Common cold: 14 days
  • Norovirus (winter vomiting): 2 to 3 days
  • Sinus infection: 14 to 21 days

Contact your GP Practice or a Pharmacist if your symptoms are getting worse or if you are not better by the times above.

Will my infection need antibiotics to get better?

  • Your body can normally fight off common infections on its own.
  • You do not usually need antibiotics, unless symptoms of a bacterial infection (such as a urine infection) are severe – a healthcare professional can advise you on this.
  • Taking antibiotics when you do not need to puts you and your family at risk as more and more people are becoming resistant to antibiotics so they don’t work when needed to fight real infections.
  • Follow your healthcare professional’s advice on antibiotics.

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