Antibiotic Use

There are two main types of germs that cause most infections—bacteria and viruses.  All colds and most sore throats and coughs are caused by viruses.  Antibiotics do not cure or treat infections due to viruses;  therefore they are not useful for colds or other viral infections.

Bacterial infections can be cured by antibiotics.  Some infections that require antibiotics are:
sore throats caused by “strep” bacteria (diagnosed by a test done in the office)  
most pneumonias 
some (not most) ear infections  
certain skin infections  
sinus infections that are long-lasting or severe

Generally, it is not safe, nor do we consider it good medical care, to prescribe antibiotics over the phone without first examining the patient in the office.  It is important to avoid using antibiotics improperly because this leads to the development of resistant bacteria.  When you take an antibiotic, bacteria that are sensitive to the antibiotic are killed, but resistant bacteria can survive and multiply.  Repeated use of antibiotics and using them when they are not necessary (i.e. to treat a cold) are some of the main reasons that there are more and more resistant bacteria.  These resistant bacteria can spread to others in the family and the community.  The more antibiotics are used, the greater the chance that you or your child will be infected with resistant bacteria that will not respond to commonly used antibiotics. 
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Silver Spring Pediatrics
Drs. DeConcini, Schooler, Zang, Wang, Yee & Marcus
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