Viral infections

Viral infections

If your child has a sore throat, cold or the flu, a virus is often the cause. This is a germ that spreads easily. The virus must run its course. For a cold, this is usually 7 to 14 days.

Your health care provider won't give your child antibiotics because they only work against bacteria. (Antibiotics that are prescribed too often will create germs that are resistant. This means that the germs are stronger than the medicine.)

The best way to protect your child from a viral infection is to wash their hands and your hands well after sneezing or coughing and before eating. Be sure to cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Tell others who have contact with your child to practice these precautions.

If your child breathes in or comes in contact with germs (bacteria and viruses), they may get an infection.

If your child is old enough, teach them how to wash their hands. Proper handwashing is the best way to avoid infections.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5, sixth edition, ped-ah-91554
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 11/16/2022