Most cough and cold illnesses are caused by viruses. Antibiotic use can only cure bacterial illnesses – not viral illnesses.
Simple and Smart Facts about Antibiotic Use
- Antibiotic are life-saving drugs. Using antibiotics wisely is the best way to preserve their strength for future bacterial illnesses.
- Antibiotic only treat bacterial infections. If your child has a viral infection like a cold, talk to a doctor or pharmacist about symptom relief. This may include over-the-counter medicine, a humidifier, or warm liquids.
- Some ear infections DO NOT require an antibiotic. A doctor can determine what kind of ear infection your child has and if antibiotics will help. The doctor may follow expert guidelines to wait for a couple of days before prescribing antibiotics since your child may get better without them.
- Most sore throats DO NOT require an antibiotic. Only 1 in 5 children seen by a doctor for a sore throat, which should be treated with an antibiotic. Your child’s doctor can only confirm strep throat by running a test.
- Green colored mucus is NOT a sign that an antibiotic is needed. As the body immune system fights off an infection, mucus can change the color. This is normal and does not mean your child needs an antibiotic.
- There are potential risks when taking any prescription drug. Antibiotic use can cause complications, ranging from an upset stomach to a serious allergic reaction. Your child’s doctor will weigh the risks and benefits before prescribing an antibiotic.
Viruses cause common illness that antibiotics CANNOT treat like:
- Most coughs
- Influenza (the flu)
- Most bronchitis
- Runny noses
- Most sore throats
- Most sinus infections
- Some ear infections
Viral illnesses, like colds, usually go away without treatment in a week or two. Even many bacterial ear infections go away by themselves. When an antibiotic is not prescribed, ask your child’s doctor or pharmacist what can be used to relieve symptoms.
Taking antibiotic for viral illnesses:
- Will NOT cure your illness
- Will NOT help you feel better
- Will NOT prevent spreading your illness to others