Antibiotics have their place in medicine. When they are needed, they can save lives and prevent significant morbidity. However, if used incorrectly, they can cause unnecessary side effects and spread resistance.
When patients have the common cold, antibiotics will not help. I usually explain to the parents that they will get better on their own and medicine is not necessary.
Unfortunately, a few families are not satisfied with my answer. One mother brought her child to the hospital four days this week for the same complaints of runny nose, cough, fever and a sore throat. Each time after I completed a thorough exam, I told the mother, “It is just a cold. She will get better over the next 1-2 weeks.”
After I finished the fourth visit, the mother was still not satisfied and pleaded, “I just want some antibiotics. Please!”
I just smiled and said, “Sure……which one would you like?”