Got the Flu or Not? How to Tell if You Need to Take an Antibiotic

Physicians usually follow certain guidelines when asked this question, even if it’s still an unclear subject.  For some doctors, they admit that based on the patient’s symptoms alone, it is quite difficult to determine if one illness is either caused by a viral infection, or if it is just a bacterial infection.

Physicians, in reality, oftentimes utilize a mixture of their experience and the science that is already available when trying to decide whether you need an antibiotic or not.  For instance, if your symptoms really make you suffer and you would like to experience some comfort, then maybe you could ask your physician for a Z-Pak, a common antibiotic well-known by its generic name azithromycin.  In case you would like to know, here are 5 ways that physicians think about whenever they should or should not give you a Z-Pak antibiotic:

  1. How long you have been sick – Viral infections that linger around for quite a while can sometimes transform into a much bigger monster inside you, such as a sinus infection, and other bacteria may come in and party with the viruses too!  Therefore, if your symptoms are still ongoing for weeks, then this means that you are a likely candidate for antibiotic treatment, such as undergoing a Z-Pak regimen for a few days.  However, in many cases, long-term symptoms are actually caused by a virus, not bacteria.  Thus, if you have tried self medication and took a few over-the-counter medications for your symptoms and still they didn’t work, then you need to visit your doctor and ask whether you need a Z-Pak antibiotic or not for your illness.
  2. Fever – If you have a high temperature or fever, and chills, then you may have a bacterial infection; however, these symptoms are also expected when you have a viral illness such as the flu.  If you happen to have fever, and the flu is currently rampant in your area, then most likely your doctor may not give you a Z-Pak antibiotic.  He may suggest that you get a flu shot for next year.
  3. Sore throat – Even if your throat is red and inflamed, your doctor may also try to look for white spots – the most obvious signs of bacterial infection, prior to giving you a Z-Pak antibiotic.  Most cold and flu illnesses begin with a sore throat; however, a sore throat that occurs without any other cold-related or flu-related symptoms (such as a runny nose or coughing) may mean that you are in dire need of a Z-pak to stop what may be a kind of dangerous bacteria in its tracks.  In order to completely know for sure, get a rapid antigen test or a culture of your saliva, which usually takes about 20 minutes or less, and results can be seen while you wait.
  4. The color of your nasal secretions – When suffering from a viral infection, a person’s nasal secretions is usually clear and thin, whereas if he/she is suffering from a bacterial infection, the secretions will be green or yellow mucus.  This actually can be quite tricky because most green-colored discharges are considered to be of viral origin.  In conclusion, the color of your mucus discharge is deemed an undependable indicator on whether you may need a Z-Pak anbitiotic or note.