Pediatrics | Published November 27, 2019 | Written by Craig Collison, MD, pediatrician, Mount Nittany Physician Group Family Medicine

What you should know about antibiotics

Has your sick child ever not been treated with an antibiotic after visiting the doctor? Hopefully, this is the case. Antibiotics can treat a variety of bacterial infections, however, these medications are not meant to treat viral illnesses such as colds, flu, bronchitis, or many sore throat infections.

When used unnecessarily, antibiotics can cause the emergence of resistant bacteria. The antibiotic will kill the sensitive bacteria allowing resistant, more resilient bacteria to grow. Resistant bacteria can spread to family and community members. Due to its resistance, these infections may need to be treated with more intensive intravenous antibiotics. This, in turn, may also result in hospitalization, in addition to causing more severe infections.

Below are common reasons your child may need an antibiotic:

Strep throat that is confirmed by a rapid strep test or throat culture

  • Bacterial forms of pneumonia or whooping cough
  • A cough that lasts longer than 14 days without improvement
  • Symptoms of a sinus infection that lasts longer than 10 days without improvement
  • Your child has a fever of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and an ear infection for several days in a row

Depending on your child’s diagnosis, his or her pediatrician will determine whether antibiotic treatment is appropriate. Antibiotics should be taken as directed for the time prescribed, with any excess discarded. Do not use old antibiotics for any undiagnosed infection.