Why Antibiotics Does Not Work For Cold or Flu?

Why Antibiotics Does Not Work For Cold or Flu?
Published : Feb 03, 2024
Last Updated : Feb 06, 2024

Time when most people suffer from cold and flu as the weather changes. As a result, you will walk to the doctor's clinic but get disappointed as the doctor will give no prescription. 

This is when you need to know that antibiotics are not meant for treating colds and flu. Antibiotics are not only practical but also one of the best medications. 

They make you feel better instantly if taken for treating infections that are caused due to bacteria. However, you need to know that intake of antibiotics, when not required, can even cause significant harm to your body. 

Antibiotics are only effective in fighting bacterial infections, which are entirely different from viruses. So, if you want to know why antibiotics do not work for treating flu, then this blog is definitely for you. 

What are Antibiotics?

Viruses cause colds, flu, bronchitis, sore throats, sinus infections, and runny noses. Since viruses are completely different from bacteria, so are the illnesses that are caused by each of them. 

It is essential to know that antibiotics are not meant to kill viruses. Viruses have different structures and replicate differently from bacteria. 

As a result, viruses are said not to respond to antibiotics that are meant for treating bacterial infections. 

How do Antibiotics work?

Antibiotics are mainly used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Bacteria are small organisms that can live inside or outside the human body. 

Some bacteria are not harmful to your body; instead, they are beneficial. Bacteria present in your digestive system are harmless and help you digest food properly. 

Some bacteria in your body can cause serious diseases if not treated on time. Antibiotics mainly work by averting the growth of bacteria, which kills or inhibits the bacteria further. 

Several antibiotics are available on the market that are helpful in treating different kinds of bacteria that cause infections. If you are suffering from strep throat, amoxicillin, a penicillin-type antibiotic, is recommended. 

But remember, it is not going to work for treating common types of pneumonia. 

Why do antibiotic Medicines not work for Viruses or Flu?

Viruses are completely different from bacteria and even have a different structure and way of life. Viruses do not have cell walls that are attacked by antibiotics because a protective protein coat surrounds them. 

You must know that bacteria attack your body cells from the outside. On the other hand, viruses move into, live in, and even start making copies of themselves inside your body's cells. 

Like bacteria, viruses are not capable of reproducing independently, so they attach themselves to healthy cells.

As a result, they reprogram those cells to make new viruses. Due to all these differences, antibiotics are not able to treat the flu or any other viruses. 

How can you treat viruses?

So, you might be thinking about what else you can do to treat illnesses that are caused due to viruses. One of the best ways is to drink plenty of fluids and take over-the-counter medicines

Doing these things will help you relieve symptoms and further assist you in recovering from a virus infection. It is always better to let your body fight off the flu or viruses on its own. 

Therefore, after reading this blog, you must have understood why antibiotics do not work for the flu. 


Antibiotics are ineffective against colds and flu because these illnesses are caused due to viruses, not bacteria. Antibiotics target bacterial infections, but viruses have different structures and replication processes. Thus, antibiotics are ineffective and fail to fight against bacterial infections. So, using antibiotics unnecessarily can harm your body and contribute to antibiotic resistance. 

For viral infections like colds and flu, focus on supportive care: drink plenty of fluids, rest, and use over-the-counter remedies to alleviate symptoms. It is essential to seek medical advice if you suspect any symptoms and feel unwell. The best approach for viral infections is to take antiviral medications and let your body naturally combat the virus. Understanding this will help ensure you use antibiotics appropriately and effectively when they are genuinely needed.