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Whooping Cough

When children need them—and when they don't

This article is provided by Anne Arundel Medical Center and the ABIM Foundation as part of the Choosing Wisely initiative. If your child has a sore throat, cough, or runny nose, you might expect the doctor to prescribe antibiotics. But most of the time, children don't need antibiotics to treat a respiratory illness. In fact, antibiotics can do more harm than good. Here's why: Antibiotics fight bacteria, not viruses. If your child has a bacterial infection, antibiotics may help. But if your child has a virus, antibiotics will not help your child feel better or keep others from getting sick. Most colds and flus are viruses. Chest colds, such as bronchitis, are also usually...

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