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 have these illnesses can lead to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

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

  • Wash your hands with plain soap for 20 seconds
  • Get your COVID-19 vaccine and annual flu shot
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Visit the BCCDC website for more information on preventing COVID-19

How can I treat colds and the flu? 

The best way to recover from a cold or flu is to 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

Key symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever or chills 
  • Cough
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Difficulty breathing

Other symptoms may include:

  • Sore throat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme fatigue or tiredness
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea 

Go to an urgent care clinic or emergency department if you:

  • find it hard to breathe
  • have chest pain
  • can’t drink anything
  • feel very sick
  • feel confused

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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