What makes viruses resistant to antibiotics

Why antibiotics are ineffective against viruses

Taking antibiotics for viruses is not only pointless, it can actually be detrimental to your health. The drugs only show a positive effect against bacteria. In the case of flu or colds, antibiotics are therefore usually the wrong choice.

Antibiotics only work against bacteria

Bacteria are not fundamentally harmful to the human body. Many of them even belong to our organism and help us, for example, with digestion or with protecting our skin. However, if the microorganisms have triggered an infection, this can be fought with the help of antibiotics. Bacteria usually consist of a single, living cell, have a metabolism and can multiply on their own. Antibiotics attack them, penetrate their cell walls and kill them. The body's own cells, on the other hand, are spared this effect.

Viruses, on the other hand, are not life forms according to the scientific definition - even if this statement is controversial. In contrast to bacteria, they have no metabolism and cannot reproduce independently. Rather, they invade a cell in the human body and take control of it. Since they do not attack human cells, antibiotics cannot do anything against viruses.

What happens when antibiotics are used against viruses?

Diseases like the flu or a cold are caused by viruses that have attacked the mucous membranes. So antibiotics usually cannot help you in this case. However, if a doctor suspects that there are harmful bacteria on the mucous membranes in addition to the viruses, he can still prescribe antibiotics so that the bacteria do not settle and multiply in the weakened area.

However, if the suspicion of bacteria is ruled out, antibiotics against viral diseases should not be used. Reason: Antibiotics can cause a number of side effects that put additional strain on the body. In addition, bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics over time if patients take the medication too often. In the worst case, the antibiotics will not have any effect at some point, even with infectious diseases.

Important NOTE: The information in no way replaces professional advice or treatment by trained and recognized doctors. The contents of t-online cannot and must not be used to independently make diagnoses or start treatments.