Support and Advice from TNPC's Parenting Experts

We are a greatly overmedicated society both with prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Some people believe that every symptom needs a drug; I disagree.

• First, let’s set the record straight about antibiotics. Antibiotics only kill bacteria; they have no effect on viruses. Antibiotics can neither reduce symptoms nor shorten the course of viral illnesses. Since more than 90% of infections are due to viruses, including almost all coughs, colds, or diarrhea, antibiotics aren’t that helpful.

• Second, what about the over-the-counter medicines for viral infections? If your child is playing and sleeping normally, nonprescription medicines are not needed. Give these medicines only when the symptoms are disrupting sleep or really bothering your child, such as coughing spasms or a fever over 102°. These medicines can make your child feel a little better, but they can’t shorten the course of an illness.

In summary, don’t feel badly if you’re not giving your sick child a drug. Drugs are not essential for recovery for most illnesses.

During Dr. Schmitt’s 20 years as a medical practitioner and researcher, he has published over 100 articles or chapters on pediatric health care, and has been awarded the distinguished C. Anderson Aldrich Award by the American Academy of Pediatrics for outstanding contributions to the field of child development. Schmitt has also authored five books including Your Child’s Health, which won Child Magazine’s first Hall of Fame Award in 1991. Schmitt is also a professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and on staff at The Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado.


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