Antibiotic use in colds and flu

 Just because symptoms can last a long time doesn’t mean children need antibiotics



Colds are very common and are caused by viruses that are easily passed from person to person. 

Symptoms may include: sneezing, blocked or runny nose, sore throat, cough, low grade fever (38° C to 38.5° C), headache, and tiredness.

Healthy children can sometimes have more than 8 colds in a year.

What can I do about it?

You can help your child feel better by:

  • making sure they get plenty of rest
  • encouraging them to drink water to avoid dehydration
  • making sure no one smokes around them.

If your child has a headache or fever and is irritable or uncomfortable, paracetamol or ibuprofen can help them feel better.

Find out more about giving medicines to children.

How long will it last?

  • In 10 days, 5 out of 10 children will no longer have a cold.
  • In 15 days, 9 out of 10 children will no longer have a cold.1

What about antibiotics?

There is no evidence that antibiotics help with colds. Antibiotics do not work against the viruses that cause colds.


What about green snot or phlegm?

Some parents and doctors have long believed that the colour of snot or phlegm indicated the type or seriousness of an infection. Research suggests that this is not the case, and even a cold with green snot or phlegm does not need to be treated with antibiotics.2,3



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