Advertisement

When is it appropriate to give children antibiotics?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

When your child is coughing, sneezing, and downright miserable, the temptation is there to request antibiotics: Just give me something that will help her feel better, Doc. The fact is that 90 percent of colds are from viruses, not bacteria.

Antibiotics generally kill bacteria, not viruses, so nine times out of ten, that medicine will do nothing to help kill the offending invader. But that's not the most serious reason why prescribing an antibiotic for a virus is so bad. Unnecessary use of antibiotics increases the chances that bacteria will get used to them and eventually become resistant to the drugs. That increases the odds that super bugs (like MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) will spread, and these resistant strains can be especially dangerous because they are untreatable by common antibiotics.

So here's a case where you need to really follow your doc's lead, and if she says your child has a virus that needs to run its course and can't be treated with antibiotics, then do the other things to make her feel better until that course is indeed run.

YOU: Raising Your Child: The Owner's Manual from First Breath to First Grade

More About this Book

YOU: Raising Your Child: The Owner's Manual from First Breath to First Grade

There’s little doubt that parenting can be one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences you’ll ever have. But it can be plenty tough, too: Around the clock, you’re working to keep your...

Continue Learning about Antibiotic

FDA Issues Stronger Warning for Common Antibiotics
FDA Issues Stronger Warning for Common Antibiotics
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now requiring stronger warnings on the labels and medication guides for a class of commonly prescribed ...
Read More
Do I Need an Antibiotic?
Do I Need an Antibiotic?
If you’ve got a fever and you’re coughing, congested or battling a sore throat, chances are you’re also missing work, losing sleep—and running out of ...
Read More
Why must I take antibiotics before seeing the dentist if I have an implant?
James P. Gurtowski, MDJames P. Gurtowski, MD
Antibiotics are important to prevent infection of an orthopaedic implant after dental procedures, be...
More Answers
Does my child need antibiotics if his nose runs with yellow or green mucus?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
When germs that cause colds first infect the nose and sinuses, the nose makes clear mucus. This help...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.