WASHINGTON -- Many of us have suffered through a cold or the Flu this season, but when you turn to your doctor for relief, be careful what you wish for.
"Many, many patients still do believe that antibiotics treat the common cold or viral infections often times they come in asking for antibiotics," said Dr. Jonathan Blum of Kaiser Santa Clara Infectious Diseases.
Antibiotics only kill bacterial infections, and are not useful against viruses. Misusing them can create resistant superbugs.
"Because we're starting to see more drug-resistant organisms out there, physicians will try what has normally worked in the past as the first line defense drug," said pediatrician Dr. Christine Halaburka. "Then, if the patient persists and still has indications for an infection, then they'll go and try a second or third antibiotic."
Bay area hospitals say they have seen an increase in the superbug known as MRSA and C Diff infections, which can cause everything from diarrhea to inflammation of the colon.
"These organisms are essentially mutating and are able to recognize the antibiotic and then develop resistance to the antibiotic," Halaburka said.
Researchers say taking antibiotics without a prescription or failing to follow the directions on the prescription gives the bacteria in your body a chance to find ways to beat the antibiotic.
"Don't have the expectation that as soon as you walk in and see your Physician that the Physician is going to give you an antibiotic just because you have a runny nose," Halaburka said.
Washing your hands several times a day can also protect you from superbugs