What’s the Difference Between Antibiotics and Antivirals?

Antibiotics vs. antivirals – what’s the difference anyway? MainStreet Family Care can tell you all of the information you need to know on the primary differences of antibiotic prescriptions and antiviral medications. 

The Main Difference Between Antibiotics and Antivirals

Antibiotics are used to treat infection within the body and are only prescribed after a person is already sick. 

Antivirals are a preventative measure that can help boost the immune system against viral infections such as the flu and COVID-19. 

Additionally, antibiotics can fight off a plethora of bacteria while antiviral drugs are used for specific illnesses. 

What Are Antibiotics? 

Most people have been prescribed antibiotics at some point in their lives, but it may be unclear what antibiotics do and what illnesses they are for. 

Antibiotic prescriptions are meant to treat bacterial infections that can cause life-threatening illnesses. These medications stop bacteria from multiplying in the body and can be life-saving for severe infections. 

Illnesses Treated by Antibiotics 

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections such as: 

  • Strep throat
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • Bloodstream infections
  • Whooping cough
  • Severe ear infections
  • Severe sinus infections 

Do you believe you have one of these conditions and need antibiotic treatment? MainStreet Family Care can help with our urgent care services

When Do I Need Antibiotics? 

You need antibiotics if you have a bacterial infection of some sort. Antibiotics do not work on illnesses like the cold and flu. 

Overuse and abuse of antibiotics can wreak havoc on your body’s ecosystem as well as create antibiotic-resistance illnesses. It is important to take antibiotics only when your provider has prescribed them to you. 

Always share any allergens with your provider before accepting antibiotic treatment to ensure there won’t be an allergic reaction to the medication. 

How To Effectively Use Antibiotics 

Antibiotics only work properly if you take them as directed. According to the CDC, best practices for taking antibiotic prescriptions include:

  • Taking the medication at instructed times such as with food, in the morning, etc. 
  • Taking the medication exactly as your provider directs you to. 
  • Do not save them for later. 
  • Never share antibiotics with others. 

Additionally, you should always finish your antibiotic, even if you are feeling better after a few doses. This will ensure that the bacteria that is attacking your body is fully eliminated and will not make you sick later. 

What Are Antivirals? 

Antiviral medications help boost your immune system, allowing it to fight off viral infections and reducing your risk of spreading diseases to others. There are many antiviral treatments that we take yearly, such as the flu shot. These medications can also be used to treat certain illnesses if not used as a preventative measure. 

Antiviral Illness Treatment 

According to The Cleveland Clinic, many viruses will resolve themselves without this type of treatment. In the case of illnesses that need antiviral treatment, many symptoms will ease up with treatment. 

Illnesses that can be treated with antivirals include: 

  • Herpes
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • HIV
  • COVID-19
  • Ebola
  • Flu
  • Swine Flu

How Are Antivirals Administered? 

There are many ways that people take antivirals. Injection is an extremely common form of the medication; however, antivirals can be administered orally, through an IV, through eye drops, with powder, and with topical ointments or creams. 

Turn To MainStreet Family Care

Feeling under the weather? Allow MainStreet Family Care to help!

To visit one of our clinics, register online. You can wait from your vehicle or at home until we are ready to see you.

Walk-in patients are always welcome in our clinic. However, please be aware that walk-ins are added to the same queue as those who register online, which may cause longer in-clinic wait time for walk-in patients.