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When Does a Child Need Antibiotics?

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Carly Morrison-Jones
Published Date: Monday, November 27, 2017

Dr. Carly Morrison-Jones, Town Center Pediatrics

When your child is feeling sick and miserable you want to help them get better fast. It could be a cold or even the flu. You’re probably thinking they need antibiotics to knock out the illness and help them feel better. Not so fast! When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help your child, and the side effects could hurt them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently released new guidance for the safe use of antibiotics in a campaign called Be Antibiotics Aware. Here are nine important facts all parents should know:

  1. Antibiotics save lives. When your child needs an antibiotic, the benefits outweigh any risk of side effects or concern for antibiotic resistence.
  2. Antibiotics aren’t always the answer when your child is sick.
  3. Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as cold and flu, runny noses and most sore throats.
  4. Antibiotics are only needed to treat certain infections caused by bacteria.
  5. An antibiotic will NOT make your child feel better if you have a virus. Ask your pediatrician about the best way to relieve your child’s symptoms while their body fights off a virus.
  6. Anytime antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects that could be severe.
  7. Anytime antibiotics are used, they can cause antibiotic resistance. When this occurs, the bacteria no longer responds to the drugs designed to kill them.
  8. If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed.
  9. Stay healthy: clean hands, cover coughs and get recommended vaccinations.

Improving the way antibiotics are used not only keeps us all healthier, it also helps fight antibiotic resistance, ensuring that these life-saving drugs will be available for future generations.

Here’s a handy chart to help you understand when antibiotics may be needed for your child:

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About CHKD Medical Group

Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.