When your child is sick, you want to help them feel better, and fast. Antibiotics are powerful medicines that can be very effective in treating your child’s illness, but taking antibiotics for the wrong reasons can cause more harm than good.

antibioticsSo when should your child take antibiotics?

Most infections are either caused by bacteria or by viruses. Antibiotics fight against bacteria for conditions like Strep throat, sinus infections and some types of pneumonia. For colds, the flu and most coughs, which are caused by viruses, antibiotics do not work. Using antibiotics for viral infections will not relieve symptoms, cure the infection or prevent the spread of illness. In fact, using antibiotics to treat viruses can lead to bacterial resistance.

What is bacterial resistance?

Taking antibiotics unnecessarily can cause bacteria to become resistant to the antibiotic. This means the bacteria become stronger and harder to kill. This can lead to more serious infections that can no longer be treated by antibiotics. The result of this could be the use of a much stronger treatment or a stay in the hospital. Not what you’d want for your child or your family.

You can help reduce the risk of bacterial resistance by ensuring that you are only using antibiotics to treat bacterial infections and that you are following your doctor’s instructions on how to use antibiotics correctly.

What is the correct way to use antibiotics?

If your doctor has prescribed antibiotics for your child’s bacterial infection, be sure to follow their instructions carefully, and finish all the medication. Your child may start to feel better after a few days but if they don’t finish all of the medication then only part of the infection will be treated. This can lead to further illness and bacterial resistance. It is important to remember that antibiotics are powerful drugs, and can be harmful if not used correctly.

If my child can’t have antibiotics, how do I help them feel better?

Antibiotics are not the right choice for colds, runny noses and most coughs. Your child will fight these off on their own. To find out the best ways to treat a soar throat read out previous post Sore Throat – Symptoms, Causes and Treatments Talk to your pharmacist about how you can comfort your child and make them feel better when they are sick.

For more information about the safe use of antibiotics, ask your knowledgeable pharmacy team at the Canadian Compounding Pharmacy. Give us a call 416-239-3566.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work. Assessed  November 2013.