Cold? Bronchitis? Get the Z-pack Facts

Cold? Bronchitis? Get the Z-pack Facts
You wake up and feel it: congestion, headache, runny nose and cough. You have a cold − also known as upper respiratory infection (URI). It’s not easy being sick, especially when you have to go to work, take care of your children, study for school, or simply get through your day. 

An upper respiratory infection is one of the most common reasons for visits to Urgent Care. Most colds are caused by viruses. With over 200 viruses, there’s a greater chance for viral colds than bacterial colds. Adults typically suffer from 2-3 colds per year, while children may have five or more. The common cold is self-limited, meaning it goes away on its own without treatment. 

What is a Z-pack? 

A Z-pack is a regimen of prescription antibiotics (azithromycin) used to treat bacterial infections. Antibiotics, including the Z-pack, do not treat viruses, which are the cause of most colds and even bronchitis. Antibiotics, especially the Z-pack, are commonly over-prescribed when they are not needed.

Similar to the common cold, bronchitis is nearly always due to a viral infection. Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchi, or airways, in your lungs. There is no cure for the common cold or viral bronchitis, but that doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. There are many treatments available, such as cough medicines, nasal sprays, decongestants or herbal supplements, that target various symptoms − bringing you relief while the virus runs its course. 

So, do you need a Z-pack? Probably not.

Know the Z-Pack Facts

Inappropriate use of azithromycin contributes to bacterial resistance. By taking a Z-pack when it’s not necessary, you may be putting yourself at risk for other health problems. 

Z-pack treatments & side effects:

     • Does not treat viruses, including those that cause colds and bronchitis
     • Inappropriate use may contribute to bacterial resistance, where it no longer works for future bacterial
     • Side effects include: loose stools, constipation, feeling sick to your stomach, abdominal pain, skin irritation,
       fever, ringing in the ears and decreased sense of taste or smell
     • May also affect the heart, causing an irregular rhythm that can be life-threatening

If you’re not prescribed a Z-pack, it’s because you likely have a viral infection. Your provider will review your symptoms and determine the best treatment option to ensure that you feel better as quickly as possible.
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