Belief that treatment is needed

Don’t assume treatment is needed.

When someone is sick, waiting to see what happens without treatment may be the best thing to do. Always consider what usually happens with a particular health problem when thinking about what to do.


Some health actions can prevent health problems and premature death and improve the quality of life. However, nature is a great healer and people often recover from health problems without treatment. In fact, some health problems may get worse despite treatment and treatment may even make things worse. Not using a treatment is not the same as not taking any health action. Waiting to see what happens (“letting nature take its course”) is sometimes the best health action you can take.


Sore throats are an example of a sickness that gets better without treatment. Sometimes sore throats are caused by viruses and sometimes they are caused by bacteria (like strep throat). Many people believe that sore throats should be treated with antibiotics. In fact, antibiotics do not help sore throats caused by viruses. In sore throats caused by bacteria, research has shown that antibiotics have only a small effect on how likely it is that someone will get better in the first few days, and after seven days, 90% of people are better whether or not they took antibiotics. At the same time, antibiotics can cause harms like diarrhoea and rash, and widespread use of antibiotics contributes to antibiotic resistance.

Remember: Sometimes treatment is not needed and may even make things worse.

Educational resources for this concept
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