17. Does your child have a cold caused by a virus?

Ninety percent of colds are caused by viral infections.  Antibiotics do not help viral infections and can cause mild to severe side effects. Antibiotics work very well against infections caused by bacteria such as strep throat. Taking antibiotics for viral infections, such as a cold, cough, the flu, or most bronchitis, will not:

  • Cure the infection
  • Keep other individuals from catching the illness, or
  • Help your child feel better

The following table identifies upper respiratory infections that are usually caused by viruses – germs that are not killed by antibiotics:

ILLNESS

Usual Cause

Antibiotic Needed?

Virus

Bacteria

Cold

X

 

No

Flu

X

 

No

Chest Cold (in otherwise healthy children and adults)

X

 

No

Sore Throats (except strep)

X

 

No

Bronchitis (in otherwise healthy children and adults)

X

 

No

Runny Nose (with green or yellow mucus)

X

 

No

Fluid in the Middle Ear (otitis media with effusion)

X

 

No

 

Time, rest and patience allow your child’s body to heal almost all colds. Your child’s physician/nurse can advise you on use of ibuprofen or acetaminophen for fever, aches and pains, as well as cough syrups and nasal sprays. Children’s doses vary based on their weight. Discuss this with your child’s physician. Read instruction labels to prevent over dosage. See that your child gets plenty of rest, good nutrition, and drinks plenty of fluids.

Cold symptoms can last from 2 to 14 days, but most people recover in about a week.

For additional information:

  • Discuss with your physician.
  • Contact Affinity NurseDirect at 1-800-362-9900 toll-free, (920) 738-2230 in the Fox Cities, or (920) 231-6578 in Oshkosh.

From your Internet connection:

www.affinityhealth.org
then click on Health Resources
then click on Affinity's 22 Tips for Better Health

Or access the following links:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/commoncold.html

www.medlineplus.gov


Adapted from: National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Reviewed:  1/07
Reviewer:  rfc

 

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