When her two-year-old daughter is under the weather, Cassi Such is quick to act.
“Make sure she’s getting a lot of extra vitamins and just extra rest and just trying to keep her from other kids that are sick,” says Cassi Such.
But cautious about overreacting.
“If I’m going to the doctor, I’m usually going to take the doctor’s advice,” says Such.
Easier said than done for some well-intentioned parents who take a sick child to the doctor and plan on leaving with a prescription.
“So often children are brought in with the expectation that the doctor has some medicine that’s going to cure it. And if it it’s a typical community virus we really don’t have anything to make that better,” says Martin Sherman, pediatrician with Lee Memorial Health System.
The two main triggers of infection are viral and bacterial. As a general rule, viruses work their way through the system unless there’s an antiviral drug like the one for flu. Bacterial infections are ones that respond to antibiotics. It’s hard for a person to tell the difference.
“They both can be spread by contact, they both can be spread by respiratory droplets. There are some of them that can be spread by ingestion. So that’s very similar. But viruses are very tiny, tiny organisms that you can only see with special electron microscopes. Where we can see bacteria in a routine microscope,” says Sherman.
So the run-of-the-mill cold, respiratory and gastrointestinal bugs have no antibiotics. But many have predictable patterns, so doctors can recommend non-prescription relief.
“Usually symptomatic medications - possibly pain relievers, simple remedies like honey for a cough or vaporization to loosen mucus but really what we are doing is providing guidance and reassurance,” says Sherman.
In the end, it’s comfort for their sick kids that most moms and dads are seeking.