Tùuchupikivi Sùumuguavi – Good Brain, Strong Heart

Photo Credit: Jeremy Wade Shockley | SU Drum archive

Why didn’t my provider give me antibiotics when I’m sick?

Healthcare providers care about their patients; when they are ill, they want them to get better and help that happen. Patients, and patients’ families, want the same thing. Despite that common goal, all winter long, all over the country, a difficult conversation happens over and over between patients and providers: why the patient is not being prescribed antibiotics.

First, let’s talk about what antibiotics are. Antibiotics are medications that try to kill or at least slow the growth of tiny organisms. Most commonly, the term refers to medications that kill bacteria. Bacteria can cause infections in all parts of the body, including the lungs, ears, skin, and throat. This can cause pneumonia, ear infections, cellulitis, and strep throat. 

Most colds are caused by viruses and not by bacteria. Antibiotics do not treat viruses. While it is miserable when your child is coughing and congested, antibiotics won’t make a cold virus go away. Most sore throats don’t need antibiotics. Even half of ear infections go away without antibiotics. Having yellow or green nose drainage doesn’t necessarily mean antibiotics are needed.

Healthcare providers don’t use antibiotics when they think illness symptoms are caused by a virus because they will not work. Also, antibiotics can sometimes cause side effects such as diarrhea, rash, stomach pain, or an allergic reaction. Additionally, using antibiotics when they are not needed can lead to resistant bacteria, meaning the bacteria are no longer killed by the antibiotics typically used on them. Using the right antibiotic for the prescribed duration and only when needed helps decrease resistant bacteria. This supports antibiotics killing bacteria when there is a bacterial infection, which is really important in keeping patients healthy.

Sometimes it is hard to tell if your child has a viral or bacterial infection. Don’t hesitate to see their provider to let them figure out which it is. Hopefully, you’ll understand their thinking if they don’t prescribe an antibiotic.

For more information about antibiotics check out: and

You can make an appointment for your child to be seen at the Southern Ute Health Clinic for illness symptoms or anything else by calling 970-563-4581.

To top