When Your Child Should Not Get an Antibiotic

What are antibiotics?

Antibiotics are medicines -- like Amoxicillin and Penicillin -- that help fight the bacteria that make us sick. Antibiotics do not help fight viruses such as a cold or the flu or most sore throats.

How are taking antibiotics and quality health care related?

Antibiotics are powerful medicines, and we want them to work when we need them the most. Taking antibiotics when they are not needed can cause them to lose their power against the bacteria that make us sick. This is called antibiotic resistance, which means that when you really need an antibiotic medicine to fight an infection, it may not work very well or at all. In this case, quality health care means that your child's doctor should not prescribe antibiotics for any illnesses caused by a virus. For example, if your child has a sore throat, he or she should take an antibiotic only if the doctor first tests for and finds the bacteria that causes strep throat. This website has quality measures that looks into how pediatricians' offices are testing and prescribing antibiotics for sore throats and coughs (upper respiratory infections).

What questions should I ask our pediatrician about antibiotics?

Click here to learn more about on when to give kids antibiotics from the Choosing Wisely Campaign and Consumer Reports, including upper respiratory infection,  ear aches, and pink eye.  Learn about 5 questions to ask your doctor about antibiotics when considering antibiotic treatment options.