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Snorting and Sneezing… Does My Child Need an Antibiotic?

By Mary Jo Ytzen, ARNP

Most illnesses are caused by two kinds of germs: bacteria or viruses.  Antibiotics can cure a bacterial infection but not a viral infection.  Bacteria cause strep throat, some pneumonia and sinus infections; viruses cause the common cold, most coughs and the flu.  Yellow or green mucus from the nose may not mean your child has a bacterial infection. During a viral cold it is normal for mucus to get thick and change color.

Antibiotics should not be used to treat the common cold, runny noses and most coughs.  Children fight off these viral illnesses on their own.  Taking antibiotics when they are not needed can cause some bacteria to become resistant to the antibiotic. Resistant bacteria are stronger and harder to kill and can stay in your child’s body and can cause severe illnesses which may require stronger treatment and a possible stay in the hospital.

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