You cannot treat colds, flu and COVID-19 with antibiotics

Antibiotics treat bacterial infections. Colds, COVID-19 and the flu are viral infections, so antibiotics won’t help. Using antibiotics when you do have these illnesses can make you resistant to them when you do need them.

There are a few ways to help prevent colds, flu and COVID-19

  • Wash your hands with plain soap for two minutes
  • Get your flu shot 
  • For COVID-19: keep your social distance 6ft
  • For COVID-19: wear a mask 
  • For COVID-19: limit social gatherings to six people

How can I treat colds and the flu? 

Colds and flu mend when you drink plenty of fluids, get rest, and give your body time to do its job.  

Do I have COVID-19?

If you experience any of these symptoms, stay home and contact your healthcare provider. You may just have a cold or the flu but stay home to keep others safe. Here is a link to the BC COVID-19 Self-assessment Tool

Common symptoms:

  • fever
  • dry cough
  • tiredness

Less common symptoms:

  • aches and pains
  • sore throat
  • diarrhea
  • conjunctivitis
  • headache
  • loss of taste or smell
  • a rash on skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes

Serious symptoms:

  • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • chest pain or pressure
  • loss of speech or movement

Resources

Antibiotics, Cold and Flu Video

Antibiotics treat bacterial infections and can be life-saving. But, antibiotics won't kill viruses like cold and flu.

Say Naaah Poster

A poster suitable for doctor's offices, community centres and other public locations. Open up and think twice about antibiotics.

Flu Clinic Finder

Locate a flu clinic near you anywhere in BC with this interactive map.

Choosing Wisely – Cold and Flu

Antibiotics don’t help most respiratory infections, and they can even be harmful. See ways you can help treat symptoms from colds and flu without unnecessary antibiotics.

Guide to the Wise Use of Antibiotics

Information on hand hygiene and treating the various symptoms of viral infections.

How to Wash Your Hands Poster

6 steps for properly washing your hands and preventing the spread of infection.

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