Antibiotics are Not Always the Answer During Cold and Flu Season
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November 21, 2014

Cold and flu season is upon us and so brings with it stuffy noses, coughs and general yuckiness.

Most infections that circulate around this time are viral in nature and can't be cured with antibiotics. Desperate to make their kids feel better, this doesn't stop parents from begging doctors for prescription antibiotics.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that antibiotics do not fight infections caused by viruses like colds, the flu, most sore throats, bronchitis and many sinus and ear infections. Taking antibiotics won't cure the infection, keep other people from getting, or help your child feel better. Taking antibiotics when they aren't needed may cause unnecessary side effects and contribute to antibiotic resistance.

You can help your child's body fight a viral infection by making sure your child is getting plenty of rest and staying hydrated.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also recommends over-the-counter medications for symptom relief but adds that these products won't make the illness go away any faster. A cool-mist vaporizer or saline nasal spray can help with congestion without using medications.

Most run-of-the-mill winter illnesses don't need a trip to the doctor's office, but you should call a doctor if your child;

  • is less than 3 months old and is showing any signs of illness
  • is less than 2 months old and has a fever
  • has a fever of 102 or higher at any age
  • has signs of labored breathing, including wheezing, fast breathing, or showing ribs
  • has blue lips
  • is not eating or drinking, with signs of dehydration
  • has ear pain
  • is excessively cranky or sleepy
  • has a cough that lasts for more than three weeks
  • is getting worse

These could be signs of a more serious illness.

When in doubt, call your primary care physician.