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Treating the Common Cold


Editor’s Note: This is the third in a short Health Tips series geared to help readers understand the role of antibiotics.


As we enter into the cold and flu season, the best way to improve your child’s health while ill with a minor infection is to keep him/her well hydrated; combat fevers and sore throats with acetaminophen; encourage rest; and give lots of tender loving care. The vast majority of infections that cause a standard sore throat, runny nose, fever, or general lack of feeling well are caused by viruses and therefore are not treatable with antibiotics. They tend to last for a few days and resolve without any prescriptions.


If you are wondering if a doctor’s appointment is necessary, a little common sense can go a long way. If your child is able to play intermittently, remain hydrated, and occasionally smile, a doctor’s appointment is probably not necessary. If the illness is longer or more intense than expected, or if your child appears to be getting worse rather than better, it makes every bit of sense to see your doctor quickly and even consider an antibiotic.


Perhaps the most common and treatable infection with an antibiotic is “Strep Throat”. What is nice about this disease is that it can be diagnosed with certainty in the doctor’s office with a simple throat swab. Additionally, it responds quickly to many inexpensive antibiotics.


Often, when children present these symptoms to the doctor, an antibiotic is offered not for the original infection, but because a secondary infection with a bacteria is considered. This typically occurs when your ill child has been sick for several days and then begins to show green nasal discharge or when he/she has been sick longer than expected.


Part 1 - Bacteria, Viruses, and Computers


Part 2 - Babies and Sinus Infections

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