03 Jan Does My Child Need Antibiotics?
As every parent knows, there is nothing as heartbreaking as having a sick child. It can be so difficult to see your child in pain—and every parent will want to do whatever they can to help their child feel better. While antibiotics are common treatments for a variety of ailments, it is important to understand that antibiotics aren’t always the right solution.
As a parent, it is important to have a basic understanding of antibiotics and when you should and should not give them to your child. You are responsible for making healthcare decisions on behalf of your child—so the more information you have, the better.
When Children Need Antibiotics: Bacterial vs. Viral Infections
Antibiotics are designed to treat bacterial infections. There are two different types of infections—bacterial infections and viral infections. While antibiotics are great for bacterial, they won’t do much for viral infections.
So, before you can decide if your child needs antibiotics, it is important to know whether they have a bacterial infection or viral infection. While a doctor will be able to determine whether your child is suffering from a bacterial or a viral infection, it is still smart for parents to know the difference between these two types of infections.
Bacterial infections are typically ailments such as strep throat and different types of pneumonia. These are the types of infections that can be treated by antibiotics.
Viral infections, on the other hand, are typically coughs, the flu, and the common cold. Antibiotics will not cure these types of infections, help your child feel better or prevent other people from catching your child’s illnesses.
One major misconception about differentiating between bacterial and viral infections is that many parents think that having green or yellow mucus means that their child has a bacterial infection. It is actually normal for mucus to change color and even get thicker during a viral infection like a cold.
Can Antibiotics Be Harmful If Children Don’t Need Them?
Some parents may think that it isn’t a big deal if they give their child antibiotics if they don’t need them—better safe, than sorry, right? Unfortunately, this isn’t true.
Antibiotics can cause some of the bacteria in your child’s system to become resistant to antibiotics. This means it won’t be killed with certain antibiotics. This can become a problem for your child later on.
In fact, many common infections are now becoming resistant to antibiotics, thanks to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. An estimated 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the United States occur due to antibiotic-resistant infections.
One thing for parents to remember when it comes to viral infections is that they are typically “self-limiting.” This means, while they may not be fun for your child to deal with, your child can fight the infection without medication that is targeted against the virus. So, while you may want to give your child anything that will help them feel better right away—many times their bodies will fight the viral infection on their own.
The best way to determine whether or not your child needs an antibiotic is to take them to your pediatrician for a proper diagnosis. If you are worried your child may have an infection, simply call us here at Continuum Pediatrics at 817-617-8600 to schedule an appointment.