Even though the body has natural ways to fight off cold viruses, many of us insist on using medications to combat these bothersome bugs. That can cause more harm than benefit: A study shows that some of these drugs may disarm the body’s anti-viral immune defenses.
According to research at the Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, the probiotic bacteria in your body help the immune system fight off viruses. If you take an antibiotic, which kill bacteria but not viruses, you are murdering the very organisms that can help you feel better.
“From our studies in mice, we found that signals derived from these beneficial microbes are essential for optimal immune responses to experimental viral infections,” says researcher David Artis. “In one way we could consider these microbes as our ‘brothers in arms’ in the fight against infectious diseases.”
“It is remarkable that signals derived from one type of microbe, in this case bacteria, can have such a profound effect on immune responses to viruses that are a very different type of microbe,” adds researcher Michael Abt. “Just like we would set a thermostat to regulate when a heater should come on, our studies indicate that signals derived from commensal bacteria are required to set the activation threshold of the immune system.”
So don’t pressure your doctor to write you an antibiotic prescription at the first sign of a cold. Otherwise, you could be making your illness worse.