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Dr. Erin Bailey with a toddler patient

FAQs: Should antibiotics be a last resort?

I hear so much about overuse of antibiotics. Should they be a last resort for my child?

Answered by Erin Bailey, MD, Medical Group of the Carolinas Pediatrics — North Grove

When it comes to antibiotic use for your child, the simple answer is to follow your doctor’s recommendations for antibiotic use. 

Antibiotic overuse and resistance is a growing problem. However, antibiotics can be necessary for common childhood illnesses such as strep throat and ear infections. If you think your child may need an antibiotic, see your primary care physician if possible. That physician is most familiar with your child’s medication history and can help choose the antibiotic that is best for your child. 

If prescribed, be sure your child completes his or her full course of antibiotic. To ensure complete resolution of the infection and prevents antibiotic resistance. Trust your doctor’s recommendations when it comes to not taking an antibiotic.

Antibiotics will not treat viral illnesses such as a viral pharyngitis (sore throat not due to strep), common cold, or the flu. If your doctor says that your child’s illness is viral, trust his or her recommendations for supportive care and monitoring. If your child’s illness drags on more than seven to 10 days or fevers continue to climb, this may need to be re-evaluated. Again, your child’s primary care physician can help determine if an antibiotic is necessary in this situation.