Some people beg their doctor for drugs that:
Can cause diarrhea
Land more than 140,000 people in the emergency room every year
Help only about one in 4,000 patients avoid a serious complication
And do nothing to relieve their symptoms
What drugs are these? The antibiotics which are routinely requested and prescribed for colds, flu and similar illnesses.
Antibiotics are useless for colds, influenza, most sore throats and the vast majority of bronchitis cases, because those illnesses are caused by viruses. Antibiotics kill only bacteria. Every time people take unneeded antibiotics, they encourage the growth of bacterial strains that resist antibiotics, creating hard-to-control "superbugs."
Nonetheless, half of antibiotic prescriptions still go to people with viral illnesses.
USA Today January 12, 2009