A large number of physicians are improperly prescribing antibiotics for patients diagnosed with both influenza and acute respiratory infections (ARI), which goes against clinical recommendations for antibiotic use, according to a recent study.

ARIs, which can affect the upper and lower respiratory systems, can be caused by pharyngitis (sore throat), ear infections, common cold, bronchitis, pneumonia and bronchiolitis. However, most ARIs are caused by viruses and do not require a course of antibiotics.

Overprescribing antibiotics is a major problem worldwide and is the driving factor behind antibiotic resistance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that of the 2 million people who get an infection from antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, about 23,000 die.