Ask a Pediatrician – Common Questions about Antibiotics 💊
The Blueberry Pediatrics Blog

Ask a Pediatrician – Common Questions about Antibiotics 💊

Dr. Lyndsey Garbi
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There are a few common questions that us pediatricians are always getting about antibiotics.

So number one being- doesn’t a nose draining yellow or green mucus mean an antibiotic is needed? 

The answer is no, a viral infection which is what causes the cold can usually start out with  a clear drippy nose and evolve to being a yellow green thick mucusy drip as well. This can last as  long as 10 days even and still just be a viral  infection even accompanied by fever and will go  away on its own. This does not need an antibiotic in fact an antibiotic won’t even do anything to  help it, because antibiotics are meant for bacteria and not for viruses.

There are some signs that can suggest the bacterial infection is the cause. Signs of  this would be fever for three to four days or more, and if that thick mucus lasts more than that ten  days. A doctor can help to determine when an antibiotic will be needed in  those circumstances.

Okay, another question is- can’t a viral infection turn into a bacterial infection?

It’s a great question the answer is yes, that is true, however most of the viral infections  won’t turn into bacterial infections. Luckily, our kids and us we can get through viruses  and overcome them and become healthy again on our own without needing a medication. The body will heal itself and using antibiotics won’t help cure that viral infection.

All right, another question, doesn’t an antibiotic cure sore throats?

It depends what the cause of that sore throat is. Over 80 percent of sore throats are actually not caused by a bacterial infection which would require an antibiotic.  They’re most likely caused by viral infections that don’t require the antibiotic.  Children under three actually rarely get throat infections such as strep throat, and most doctors won’t even look for it because it will be falsely positive or it’s just not needed to put the kids through that. We always take
into account how the patient looks what their  symptoms are any sick contacts in the household and we make an appropriate plan around that.


For more information about antibiotics and kids, see Dr. Garbi’s other related articles:

Common questions about Antibiotics and kids

When are antibiotics needed?

Tips for using antibiotics safely