When Your Child Does Not Need Antibiotics | Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacology | JAMA Pediatrics | JAMA Network
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JAMA Pediatrics Patient Page
September 2013

When Your Child Does Not Need Antibiotics

JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(9):880. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.3274

During childhood, most children get many colds, infections, and minor illnesses. Infections in childhood are typically caused by viruses or bacteria.

Viruses cause most colds, most sore throats, most cases of pneumonia, and most cases of diarrhea, and it is the most common cause of vomiting in children. Antibiotics do not help to kill viruses, but they can cause adverse effects if your child unnecessarily takes an antibiotic during a viral infection.

Bacteria can cause ear infections, sinus infections, some sore throats, and pneumonia. Antibiotics are strong medicines that are designed to kill bacteria, but they have no salutary effect on a viral infection. During a visit to your pediatrician, he or she will want to know the history of your child’s symptoms, to do a physical examination of your child, and to evaluate whether or not the infection is viral or bacterial.