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Antibiotics Aren't Always the Answer

October 22, 2018

Most childhood illness are caused by viruses … and antibiotics do not treat viruses. Your child may have a fever, rash, muscle aches, vomiting, or diarrhea. Other viral symptoms include a cough, chest congestion, runny nose, or nasal congestion (stuffy nose).  

Your healthcare provider may not order antibiotics to treat your child. Antibiotics are not usually needed to treat many colds and ear infections.   

If antibiotics are used incorrectly, germs can become resistant to the wrong type, wrong dose, or wrong treatment length of antibiotic used. This has made it harder to cure many infections that were once easily treated.  

If your child is prescribed antibiotics, make sure he or she takes them exactly as ordered. Do not skip doses and do not stop taking the medicine unless directed by your healthcare provider. Follow up with your PCP as directed.   

Never save antibiotics or give leftover antibiotics to your child that were prescribed for another illness.   

So how do you manage your child’s symptoms when antibiotics aren’t the answer? 

Give your child plenty of liquids. Liquids will help thin and loosen mucus so your child can cough it up. Liquids will also keep your child hydrated.   

Have your child rest for at least 2 days. Rest will help your child heal.   

Use a cool mist humidifier in your child's room. Cool mist can help thin mucus and make it easier for your child to breathe.   

Clear mucus from your child's nose. Use a bulb syringe and saline drops to remove mucus from a baby's nose. Saline helps to thin nasal secretions and aids in removal.   

Soothe your child's throat. If your child is 8 years or older, have him or her gargle with salt water. Make salt water by adding ¼ teaspoon salt to 1 cup warm water. You can give honey to children older than 1 year. Give ½ teaspoon of honey to children 1 to 5 years. Give 1 teaspoon of honey to children 6 to 11 years. Give 2 teaspoons of honey to children 12 or older.  

Do not give over-the-counter cough or cold medicines to children under 6 years. Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. These medicines can cause side effects that may harm your child.   

Hand washing is the number one way to prevent infection and the spread of germs  

If concerned please call the office of your child’s primary care provider. Call 911 if your child develops difficulty breathing.  

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