Childhood Illnesses; Knowing When to Call the Doctor: Viruses and Bacteria

Infections may be caused by many different types of viruses and bacteria. Antibiotic medication is used to treat bacterial infections only. It has no effect against viruses.

Many sick children have fever, muscle aches, congestion, diarrhea, vomiting, or fussiness. Most of the time, a cold or flu virus is the cause, especially if the child has been exposed to people who are sick.

The body can be infected by viruses or bacteria through the eyes, nose, or mouth. Viruses and bacteria are spread from one person to the next.

For example, infected children may cough into their hands, and then spread the germs onto toys. By picking up these toys and touching their own eyes or noses, other children become infected as well.

One of the most effective ways to prevent infection is to wash hands often with soap and water.

When a child has any type of viral infection, rather than giving antibiotics, it becomes important to treat the symptoms. Resting, controlling the fever, pain relief, and drinking plenty of fluids are often the best treatments.

Call or email our office if your child isn’t improving in the expected amount of time; colds and stomach flu symptoms can last anywhere between 3 to 10 days.