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Mayo doctors say antibiotics aren’t good for every winter sickness



Antibiotics can save people’s lives, but Mayo Clinic says those drugs are not appropriate for every illness.

For example, antibiotics don’t do much for colds and flu, because the pills don’t work on viruses.

Sarah Lessard, a pharmacist with Mayo in the La Crosse area, says doctors would like to see a sure-fire medicine to treat most viruses.

“We don’t have that just yet, you know, that’s that magic bullet that we really do want,” Lessard told reporters Tuesday. “Unfortunately, when we have common cold or viral syndromes, we do want to get better, we have lives to get back to.” But, she says many colds and coughs can last two or three weeks, or more.

During a Mayo video conference, Lessard said a symptom like a sore throat can be eased with honey or popsicles as effectively as with a medicine.

Lessard added that illnesses like COVID-19 and RSV are not going to respond to those medicines.

“Anti-biotics do not work for viral syndromes,” she said, “and many times when we get a cold, that 95 per cent of the time, it’s likely a virus.”

Lessard noted that one of the best remedies for colds is to stay home and recover for a few days.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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