Sneezes, coughs, congestion, hoarseness and earaches – while these symptoms may indicate a viral infection such as a cold or flu, they may also be caused by a bacterial infection. According to the American Medical Association, parents miss an estimated 126 million workdays annually caring for a sick child. With cold and flu season here, learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a bacterial infection, when to call your child’s healthcare provider and treatment options that are right for your child. These health tips will help get you and your little one back on track faster.

Six Things You Can Do to Prevent Bacterial Infections

  1. Wash your hands and your child’s hands with soap and water before eating and after using the restroom.
  2. Pack a pocket-sized antibacterial hand sanitizer in your child’s bookbag.
  3. Practice good hygiene with your child.
  4. Clean open cuts or scrapes with soap and water.
  5. Teach your child to cover his/her mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  6. To prevent the spread of illness, keep your child home from school for one or two days, if possible.

It’s Time to See a Healthcare Provider When…

  • Your child is vomiting and has not urinated for six to eight hours.
  • A cold lingers for seven to ten days and is not improving or gets worse.
  • Your child’s fever reaches 102° or higher.
  • Your child is under 6 months of age with a fever.
  • Your child is lethargic or not consolable.

Treatment Options for Bacterial Infections

If the infection is bacterial, the healthcare provider may prescribe an antibiotic to fight the illness. Antibiotics are not appropriate for viral infections but are essential for bacterial infections.

Be sure your child finishes the full course of antibiotics to ensure a complete recovery from the infection and reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance.

Talk to your healthcare provider about choosing the most effective antibiotic for your child. If you are having difficulty with the frequency of the dosing schedule, the antibiotic’s taste or keeping your antibiotic refrigerated, discuss with the clinician the possibility of once daily dosing, a more palatable antibiotic or one that doesn’t need refrigeration. Remember, medication may be ineffective if not taken as prescribed.

If you think your child may have a bacterial infection, visit your healthcare provider for an appropriate diagnosis.

The sooner illness is detected, correctly diagnosed and appropriately treated, the better chance of a good outcome.

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