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Health Tip: Get the Facts About Antibiotics

Know when they help, and when they don't

(HealthDay News) -- Antibiotics aren't always what you or your child needs to get well.

The American Academy of Pediatrics explains:

  • An antibiotic will not help the common cold, which is caused by a virus. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections, not those caused by viruses or other germs.
  • Overuse of an antibiotic could lead to bacteria that becomes resistant to that medication. That's why an antibiotic should never be used unless necessary.
  • An antibiotic could cause mild side effects, such as diarrhea.
  • Green or yellow mucus can signal a viral infection or a bacterial infection. Symptoms lasting longer than 10 days accompanied by fever may mean a bacterial infection.
  • Not all ear infections need an antibiotic. Many will go away without treatment. Ask your doctor about this.
  • Most sore throats are caused by a virus, but strep throat does need an antibiotic.
  • An antibiotic usually starts working within three days, so call your doctor if you don't see an improvement by then.
  • Never share an antibiotic with anyone, take it exactly as directed and always finish the prescription even if you feel better.
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