Viral vs. Bacterial Infections: Know the Difference
Do you know how to tell the difference between your child having a viral illness and a bacterial infection? Even so, did you know treatment for these illnesses is vastly different? Read on to learn about the variety of illnesses commonly seen in childhood and how to get your child back to health as quickly as possible.
Is it a viral or bacterial infection?
A virus needs a living host to multiply, such as an animal, person, or plant. Viruses then invade living cells and instruct them to produce more viruses.
Common viral infections you may be familiar with include:
- A common cold
- “Stomach bug”
- Hand, foot, and mouth
Bacteria on the other hand can survive in different climates and environments. They can make a home in a hot or cold setting, with the help of living organisms or without. Bacteria can be found in or on plants, animals, people, water, soil, hot springs, and more.
Common bacterial infections can include:
What type of treatment is best?
The key difference between these two illnesses is that antibiotics can be effective for bacterial infections, but won’t work for viral infections.
For viral infections, the best treatment parents can give is supportive care. Sometimes antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu, are prescribed to help shorten the course of a viral illness or lessen the severity of the symptoms, but for most viruses a prescription medication is not warranted. Therefore, addressing the symptoms is key for a quicker recovery. This can be done with plenty of fluids, over-the-counter medicines, rest, and a little extra TLC.
For bacterial infections, there are a variety of effective antibiotics available that will allow for a speedy recovery. Antibiotics should never be taken to treat a viral infection as this can cause antibiotic resistance, which occurs when antibiotics are overused or misused and can make actual bacterial infections harder to treat. In addition, antibiotics will not do anything to help with a viral infection. For these reasons, antibiotics should only be used when absolutely necessary and prescribed by a clinician.
Not sure what to do next?
If you’re concerned your child may have a viral or bacterial infection, please reach out Village Pediatrics for further evaluation. We will discuss your child’s health history and ask in-depth questions about their symptoms to learn if antibiotics are necessary and equip you with guidance for the most appropriate treatment based on your child’s diagnosis.
To schedule an appointment at Village Pediatrics, click here or reach out via text or phone to your preferred location below:
Village Pediatrics in Plano:
- Text (214) 473-2200
- Phone (214) 473-2200, Ext. 3
Village Pediatrics in Frisco:
- Text (972) 525-7381
- Phone (469) 872-9966