What are antibiotics and why are they used (or not) in children with flu or flu-like illness?

Antibiotics are a type of medicine used to treat infections caused by bugs known as bacteria. Bacterial infections can cause a range of infections, including chest, throat and ear infections.

Most children with flu or flu-like illness will get better on their own without needing antibiotics because flu or flu-like illness is mostly caused by viruses, which do not respond to antibiotics.

However, some children, especially children who are felt to be at greater risk of complications, may be more prone to developing bacterial infections if they get flu or flu-like illness. These children may benefit from being treated with antibiotics at an earlier stage.

We asked Kay Wang a GP and researcher with a specialist interest in flu or flu-like illness to help explain what antibiotics are and why they are used or not in children with flu or ‘Flu-like illness’ and to clear up some misunderstandings about the role of antibiotics and drug resistance.

Dr Wang explains what antibiotics are and when they are used.

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