|Antibiotics: When Do They Help|
Antibiotics are strong medicines that can kill bacteria. They have saved many lives and prevented bad outcomes. These drugs do not kill viruses. They only work on bacteria. Every day, doctors must decide if a child's infection is viral or bacterial. Here's how they do it:
Bacterial Infections. Much less common than viral infections. Antibiotics can help. Bacteria cause:
Viral Infections. Most infections in children are caused by a virus. Antibiotics do NOT help. Viruses cause:
Cold Symptoms that are Normal
Parents sometimes are worried about common cold symptoms. The symptoms below are not signs of bacterial infections. Nor, are they a reason to start antibiotics.
Side Effects of Antibiotics
All antibiotics have side effects. Some children taking these drugs can get side effects. Examples are diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or a rash. Loose stools occur because the drug kills off the good bacteria in the gut. If your child gets a rash, it can be from the drug. Your doctor has to decide if the rash is an allergy or not. The biggest side effect of overuse is called antibiotic resistance. This is when the germs are no longer killed by the drug. That's why we only use antibiotics if your child really needs one.
Giving Antibiotics for Viral Infections: What Happens?
If your child has a virus, an antibiotic won't get rid of the fever. It will not help the other symptoms. The drug will not get your child back to school sooner. It will not get you back to work any faster. If your child has side effects from the drug, he will feel worse.
What You Can Do
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt
Content Set: Child Symptom Checker
Child Symptom Checker
This free app has a symptom checker,
dosage tables for common medications,
home health advice and more.