Rx for URIs: Validate vs Medicate

October 5, 2010

Many patients with a viral upper respiratory tract infection still expect an antibiotic prescription when they come to the office.

Many patients with a viral upper respiratory tract infection still expect an antibiotic prescription when they come to the office. When I see patients with cold symptoms, I always acknowledge how miserable they must feel. For example, I say, "That cough sounds awful" or "Your throat looks really red; that must hurt a lot." Then I explain that an antibiotic would not help them feel better; instead, I recommend treatments that can relieve symptoms while their immune system fights off the infection.

Patients seem much more content to leave without an antibiotic prescription when they believe that I take their symptoms seriously and have done my best to give them something to help them feel better.

-- Melissa Schiffman, MD

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