Does my child need more antibiotics?

Have you noticed antibiotics are often prescribed at the beginning of a runny nose? You know, the type of snotty runny nose your child gets from daycare once a week?! Have you ever wondered if you child really needs that dose of antibiotics?
As parents, we want to do the best we can for our children. And we know that sometimes, that means we need to give them medication. But more and more parents are looking for a natural alternative, or questioning if the medication is even necessary.
In fact, even the Australian government is on a mission to reduce the number of antibiotic prescriptions. That’s how often they’re given unnecessarily!
The most common concerns with antibiotic overuse are ::
    + Antibiotic resistance
    + Allergic reactions
    + Secondary infections
    + Reactions with other drugs
Did you know…. antibiotics are responsible for almost 1 out of every 5 emergency department visits for adverse drug events!
Well, I’ve got some more concerns to add to the list. But first I would like to clarify that I am not against antibiotic use. I required them after the birth of my baby and have taken them numerous times. There is a time and a place for antibiotics. However I am so passionate about raising healthy children that I would love to see a reduction in antibiotic overuse. I’m so thankful my son has yet to have any antibiotics (aside what he got through my milk!).  Wouldn’t it be great if we could find a way to strengthen our children’s immune systems, so that they don’t require antibiotics?
Collection of colorful pills
My concerns ::
Daily, I have children come into my office who have been on round after round of antibiotics. Most people know someone who is on the antibiotic round-a-bout – a course of their trusty antibiotics once every 3-4 weeks. They are sick, they take antibiotics, they get better for a little while, then they get sick again. And you guessed it.. more antibiotics. These round-a-bout children highlight my main concern with antibiotic overuse. Let me explain.
+ Most childhood infections are viral. Antibiotics do not kill viral infections.
+ Antibiotics cause a suppression in the immune system. Generally this suppression lasts 3-4 weeks. Doesn’t it make sense then that these sick children pick up their next infection within 3-4 weeks of taking antibiotics?
+ Antibiotics don’t just kill of bad bacteria, they also kill off good bacteria! 70-80% of your immune system comes from those friendly bacteria in your gut. These gut bacteria are also involved in food digestion, producing vitamins and nutrients for your body, and also assisting in detoxification. This is just one way antibiotics are able to suppress the immune system. 
+ This follows on from the previous point. Killing the good bacteria in your gut, repeatedly, may cause what is caused a dysbiosis. This is when other not-so-friendly bacteria (which may be resistant to the antibiotics), as well as yeast, fungi and parasites are able to overgrow. Having an imbalanced gut has been shown to lead to food allergies, a chronically reduced immune system, and even seemingly unrelated symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, and behavioural changes. If you do not replenish your child’s gut bacteria after a course of antibiotics, or a number of courses, you may be increasing the risk of this occurring.
 (I love this image – from


With a depleted immune system and an imbalance in the gut, these children are set up for constant infections (mainly viral), as well as the potential for nutritional deficiencies and food allergies!

Luckily, there is a solution for these constantly sick, immunosuppressed children. They don’t need to spend every month on antibiotics, and always feel “not quite right”. They are actually one of my favourite issues to help parents resolve!


What’s that, you ask? Why is a chiropractor talking about this stuff, and how does chiropractic fit in with it all? We will get to the answer to that question shortly.


But first, let’s go over some virus vs bacteria basics.

So how do I know if my child has a viral or a bacterial infection?

I’m going to give you an easy guide to telling the difference between a viral and a bacterial infection, so that you can reduce the over-use of antibiotics, and increase your child’s health and vitality!


  • Viruses cause inflammation throughout the entire body
  • Your child may start with a runny nose, which progresses to blocked ears, or a cough, even a wheeze
    • The inflammation associated with a virus causes fluid build up throughout the body – their ears will be blocked, their nose will run, their lungs may fill with mucous leading to a productive cough
  • They will be lethargic, and tired, with sore muscles
  • If you feel your child’s glands in their neck, they will all be enlarged
  • A healthy child will recover from most garden-variety viruses in 5-7 days


  • Bacterial infections are generally localised to one area of the body
  • This means your child may have an isolated chest infection, or a sore throat, without all the whole-body sensations of a virus
  • Their glands will be swollen only in the area of the infection – a localised bacterial infection is less likely to cause glands to be swollen everywhere, and muscles to be sore
  • In very sick children, bacterial infections are often secondary to a virus that the child’s immune system cannot remove
    • It is imperative to ensure your child has a healthy, strong immune system! 

What about their snot?

Snot colour is not a good indicator of whether there is a bacterial or viral infection occurring. Just because it has turned green, or yellow, does not mean it is more likely to be a bacterial infection – it purely means that the body is excreting debris and dead cells (including dead viruses and bugs).

But they have a fever…

Viruses cause fevers too! A fever is your body’s way of killing infections – did you know that having a fever actually inhibits viral replication and growth? This is a wonderful tool that the body innately uses! Anything that reduces fever may give you peace of mind that your child is more comfortable, but may be extending the length of time your child is sick, and inhibiting their body from fighting as best as it can.


bambina con rosalia virus

Why does a chiropractor care about infections?

  • German paediatricians found that the upper neck connects to the Eustachian tube and inner ear via small muscles, and that any restriction or misalignment in the neck may lead to a lack of drainage of the fluid and debris caused by infections
  • Chiropractic adjustments have been found to stimulate the immune system, and reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels, both of which may allow a faster healing time
  • Chiropractors are qualified to give advice, and even supply nutritional supplements, which may assist the body in fighting infections, and boosting the immune system
  • The immune system is controlled by the nervous system. Chiropractic supports the nervous system, bringing it into balance, so your child can have their optimal immune response to each infection
I encourage you to invest in the health of your children, and support their little bodies while they are fighting an infection. Support includes rest, adequate hydration, getting a chiropractic adjustment from your child’s chiropractor, and adding any supportive supplements when needed.

Do you know a child on the antibiotic round-a-bout? 

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