Antibiotics are not effective in preventing or treating the flu. Antibiotics are used when bacteria is the cause of illnesses. Antibiotics help kill bacteria or stop them from reproducing, indicates Medline Plus. Influenza is a viral infection, meaning antibiotics will be useless against it. The only times antibiotics may be prescribed during a flu illness is if flu symptoms have contributed to secondary or tertiary illnesses, such as strep throat or ear infections.

Requesting antibiotics without the presence of a bacterial infection will not help a person feel better faster, and taking antibiotics unnecessarily could compound the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

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