- Children taking antibiotics for a cough will only cough for half a day less than those who do not.
- Antibiotics will not help with a cold.
- Three quarters of people who take antibiotics for a sore throat will get better whether they have taken them or not. Most will get better just as quickly as those who have been prescribed antibiotics.
- Antibiotics will not help with croup.
- 14 out of 15 children will recover from ear ache just as quickly if they have not been prescribed antibiotics.
Using antibiotics can make bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
Antibiotics kill our natural bacteria that help to protect us. This can result in children developing thrush.
Taking antibiotics can cause side-effects such as diarrhoea, tummy upsets and rashes.
If you are concerned you can ring:
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When should I worry?
Your Guide to Coughs, Colds, Earaches and Sore Throats
Having an ill child can be a very scary experience for parents. If you understand more about the illness it can help you to feel more in control.
This information is for parents (and older children) and deals with common infections in children who are normally healthy.
A sore throat will get better by itself. It does not need any treatment. If your child has a sore throat and/or is very unwell for more than three days then make an appointment with the doctor. If you look in your child's throat and you see large tonsils this is not a sign that they have an infection.
There is normally no need to treat ear infections with antibiotics. You can give your child Paracetamol or Ibuprofen for pain relief. Make an appointment with your doctor if there is discharge coming from the ear or the child cannot hear.
Croup is most common in children who are under 3 years of age. Keep your child calm and give them sips of water to drink. Sitting your child up may help them breathe more easily. If your child is breathing rapidly, they are becoming agitated, tired or their skin turns a bluish colour then call the doctor.
Eating and Drinking
Children can go a few days with not eating but encourage children to drink so that they do not become dehydrated. Watch for signs of drowsiness, dry eyes/mouth or peeing less. That is the time to contact your doctor.
Do not smoke around your child
Fever is a normal response that may even help fight infections. What can you do about it? To make your child feel more comfortable you can try to lower their temperature by giving them Paracetamol and/or Ibuprofen. Take off their outer clothing (do not wrap your child up).
Cough / Chesty Cough
When young children catch a cold they often develop a 'noisy chest' or a 'chesty cough'. This can be worrying for parents who believe that a chesty cough is a sign of a chest infection. Young children often get noisy chests. This is because they have smaller airways and thinner rib cages than adults. A child with a true chest infection will generally be more unwell.
Colds are very common. Normal healthy children can sometimes have 8 or more colds a year! Some parents have long thought that the colour of phlegm or snot indicated that their children may have an infection. This is not the case.