KUSA - During the cold and flu season, doctors see a lot of patients asking for an antibiotic. But, that antibiotic might not be the answer.
Duke University researchers are developing a blood test to help determine when they will help. The test will show if it is a respiratory illness from a virus or a bacterial infection.
9NEWS Medical Expert Dr. John Torres said it will make a huge difference in the way doctors prescribe medication. Right now, the things doctors struggle with the most is what they call the "educated guess.
"We have a lot of years of experience, a lot of training," Dr. Torres said. "We can say this looks more viral, but we can't give 100 percent assurance so patients don't want to suffer through those extra days."
Dr. Torres said the main difference to doctors in the viral vs. bacterial debate is whether or not they prescribed antibiotics. If it's viral, the body will just take care of it.
Dr. Torres says this test will also help us cut down on antibiotic overuse in our society. He says it is a huge problem today. Antibiotics not only come with side effects but overuse makes them less effective over time.
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