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Why don’t antibiotics cure colds?

Why don’t antibiotics cure colds?
Christopher O’Brien from Gwynedd (Age 15-24)

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3 Responses

  1. Colds and flu are caused by a type of micro-organism called a virus. Some other illnesses, e.g. chest infections, are caused by micro-organisms called bacteria. Antibiotics kill bacteria but not viruses so they are no use when you have a cold.

  2. Colds are caused by viruses. As antibiotics cannot kill viruses they cannot cure colds. They can be of use when colds lead to secondary infections by bacteria, such as chest infections.

  3. Antibiotics disrupt cell metabolism and kill specific bacteria. Viruses are non-cellular and are therefore unaffected by antibiotics. Unfortunately for common viruses we have to rely on our immune systems do all the work for us.

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