Nurse News

Antibiotics aren’t always The answer What everyone should know

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Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem across the world. The main driving factors behind antibiotic resistance are the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. Learn more below about when antibiotics are and are not needed for common infections, and the potential harms of using antibiotics.


If You Have a Cold or Flu, Antibiotics Won’t Work for You

Are you aware that colds, flu, most sore throats, bronchitis, and many sinus and ear infections are caused by viruses? Did you know that antibiotics do not help fight viruses? It’s true. For the overwhelming majority of common respiratory infections, antibiotics are not helpful.

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Antibiotics cure bacterial infections, not viral infection such as:

  • Colds or flu
  • Most coughs and bronchitis
  • Most sore throats
  • Runny noses


Taking antibiotics for viral illnesses:

  • Will NOT cure your child’s illness
  • Will NOT help your child feel better
  • Will NOT keep others from catching your child’s illness


Antibiotics Can Cause More Harm than Good
Taking antibiotics when you have a virus may do more harm than good:

  • Taking antibiotics increases your risk of getting an antibiotic-resistant infection later.
  • Antibiotics kill the healthy bacteria in the gut, allowing more harmful bacteria, such as C. difficile, to grown in its place.
  • Antibiotics cause 1 out of 5 emergency department visits for adverse drug events.
  • It’s important to only take antibiotics for bacterial infections since they can put you or your child at risk for harmful side effects and antibiotic-resistant infections.



1. Antibiotics are life-saving drugs
Using antibiotics wisely is the best way to preserve their strength for future bacterial illnesses.

2. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections
If your child has a viral infection like a cold, talk to a doctor or pharmacist about symptom relief. This may include over-the-counter medicine, a humidifier, or warm liquids.

3. Some ear infections DO NOT require an antibiotic
A doctor can determine what kind of ear infection your child has and if antibiotics will help. The doctor may follow expert guidelines to wait for a couple of days before prescribing antibiotics since your child may get better without them.

4. Most sore throats DO NOT require an antibiotic
Only 1 in 5 children seen by a doctor for a sore throat has strep throat, which should be treated with an antibiotic. Your child’s doctor can only confirm strep throat by running a test.

5. Colored mucus is NOT a sign that an antibiotic is needed
As the body’s immune system fights off an infection, mucus can change color. This is normal and does not mean your child needs an antibiotic.

6. There are potential risks when taking any prescription drug
Antibiotic use can cause complications, ranging from an upset stomach to a serious allergic reaction. Your child’s doctor will weigh the risks and benefits before prescribing an antibiotic.

If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to contact me.

Meg Kamei
TIS School Nurse

Medline Plus –