Immediate antibiotics for people at risk of complications

Immediate antibiotics for people at risk of complications

You may be offered an immediate prescription for antibiotics or further checks or investigations if:

  • you are very unwell

  • you have signs or symptoms of serious illness or complications (especially pneumonia, an infection of the mastoid bone behind the ear called mastoiditis, a complication of tonsillitis called a peritonsillar abscess, or problems that affect the bones of the head)

  • you have another medical condition that makes you more at risk of a complication from the RTI, for example heart, lung or kidney disease, neuromuscular disease (such as muscular dystrophy), cystic fibrosis or if your immune system has been weakened (for example by immunosuppressive medicines used after a transplant or in cancer therapy). Young children who were born prematurely are also more at risk of a complication.

  • you are older than 65 years and have a cough and two or more of the following, or if you are older than 80 years and have a cough and one or more of the following:

    • you have been admitted to hospital in the past year

    • you have diabetes

    • you have a history of congestive heart failure

    • you are taking steroid medicines.

See Respiratory tract infections (RTIs) for more information on how long RTIs usually last and Managing symptoms for more information on how you can help relieve the symptoms.

Questions you might like to ask

  • When should I start to feel better and what should I do if I don't start to feel better by then?

  • What should I do if I get any side effects from the antibiotics?

  • Are there any foods or drinks that I should avoid?

  • Is there anything I can do to help myself get better?

  • When and how should I seek further help?