Pharmacists are the best source of advice for common cold,
says Dr Sarah Jarvis

Research Reveals Brits Still Expect  Antibiotics for the Common Cold

During the winter months, Dr Sarah Jarvis sees a huge number of patients visiting her surgery, all for the common cold.

In fact, new research from ColdZyme has revealed that almost a third of UK patients (33%) are heading to their GP with a cold. Well over half of these (61%) go on to ask their doctor for antibiotics to treat symptoms.

We caught up with Dr Jarvis to hear her advice on how to deal with the common cold.


What did you think of the ColdZyme research findings?

Given how often I see patients with colds in my surgery, I shouldn’t be surprised at these figures. But even I am shocked at quite how many people expect antibiotics for a virus infection. There is nothing the GP can offer if you have a cold.

Antibiotics have absolutely no place whatsoever with the common cold. One thing that really surprised me with the research, was that so few over 65s, only around 13%, were going to the GP with a cold.

Whereas, more than half of 18-35 year olds were visiting the GP. Perhaps with young people being very time poor and with lots of time pressures, they might be worried about taking time off work.

Interestingly two in five people would rather force themselves to a social engagement just to prove they’ve got a cold, rather than be judged or not believed because they’d cancelled their plans.


Would antibiotics ever be prescribed for a cold?

There is virtually never a situation when a GP will give antibiotics to anybody with a common cold.

There are very rare exceptions. For example, with patients who have an existing medical ailment such as COPD, a chronic lung condition. For these people, who may be more susceptible to a bacterial infection super imposed on top of the cold, they may need antibiotics.

However, ordinarily for the common cold, no, there is never a reason to give antibiotics.


What is the best thing you can do to remedy a cold?

Up to 85% of people who visited the GP waited for at least an hour to be seen. One in 12 waited for two hours, only to be told there was nothing the GP could offer.

If you’ve got a cold, no matter how miserable the cold, how much you are sneezing, how red your nose is, or how bunged up you feel, antibiotics are not the right thing.

Your pharmacist on the other hand, is an invaluable source of expert advice and alternatives you can use.

They have so many good ideas about tailored symptom relief options, and possibly some which may shorten the duration of the cold.


Pharmacists are the best source of advice for common cold says Dr Sarah Jarvis
When should you see your GP?

You should see your GP if:

  • you have an existing lung condition such as asthma or COPD, particularly if you become more breathless, or short of breath
  • you become wheezy
  • you have sharp, stabbing chest pains (when you breathe rather than when you cough)
  • you feel very hot and cold all over
  • you are coughing up blood