Antibiotics are only administered if the child has a bacterial infection. Illnesses like tonsillitis, inflammation of the middle ear and pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, but in most cases a virus is at play. Antibiotics have no effect on viral infections. It can be very difficult to determine whether an infection is caused by bacteria or virus. All infections cause fever but far from every child with a fever needs antibiotics. The doctor can examine your child and determine whether or not there is a need for antibiotics.
There are many different kinds of antibiotics. There are narrow-spectrum and broad-spectrum antibiotics. As a rule of thumb, the doctor always starts with administering narrow-spectrum antibiotics – for example penicillin. Far most infections with children can be cured with penicillin. The most important reason for the doctors to choose penicillin is fear of the bacteria becoming resistant. Some bacteria can change during the treatment and thereby become resistant to penicillin. In those cases, the doctor can change to a more broad-spectrum antibiotic.
A penicillin mixture is often chosen for the small children. The biggest problem with penicillin mixture is that it does not taste very well. To cover the taste of penicillin you can cool it or mix it with concentrated juice in small amounts. You may suggest that the child holds its nose while drinking the mixture, and thereby reducing the flavour. Give the child something to eat or drink afterwards. With very little children you can use the swallowing reflex by emptying the mixture as far back in the child’s mouth as possible. This can be done with a syringe, which you get together with the mixture or can be bought at the pharmacy. Some prefer one kind of mixture – others a different kind. It is therefore sensible to begin with the cheapest penicillin.
The mixture should be shaken prior to usage and stored in a refrigerator.
Depending on what kind of infection the child is treated for it should be administered pencilling for 7-10 days. It is important that the child takes the penicillin in the days prescribed by the doctor. Many children get well after 2 to 3 days treatment with penicillin, but if you end the treatment after 2 to 3 days, there is a risk that the illness will return with regained strength.