Antibiotics, antibiotic resistance and childhood respiratory tract infections

Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in Australia. Read about antibiotics, the causes of antibiotic resistance and what parents can do to manage common childhood respiratory tract infections when antibiotics are not recommended.


Many parents and carers overestimate the power of antibiotics

There are many misconceptions about the benefit of antibiotics. Many parents in Australia believe antibiotics will benefit colds, sore throats and associated symptoms caused by respiratory tract infections.

As a result, parents may too often expect antibiotics for coughs, earaches and sore throats when they are not recommended, and overuse of these medicines can cause more harm than good.

Studies have shown that antibiotics have no or limited benefit for colds and coughs and can cause side effects.

Learn more about antibiotics

What causes antibiotic resistance? 

Confusion about the benefit of antibiotics can lead to inappropriate use, which in turn contributes to the global problem of antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change to protect themselves from an antibiotic and cause these medicines to lose their effectiveness. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be passed between family, friends and the community.

Learn more about antibiotic resistance

What you can do to help your child feel better 

It’s important for parents to understand that colds and most coughs, earaches, sore throats and other common symptoms caused by respiratory tract infections will improve without antibiotics. Helping your child feel better without the use of antibiotics is one way to preserve the power of antibiotics for our children when they need them.

Understanding how to manage colds, coughs, earaches, sore throats and other common respiratory tract infections can help you feel more in control when your child is unwell.

Find out how to manage common symptoms, how long symptoms usually last, how to tell when your child’s symptoms are serious and when to seek help from your health professional. 

What every parent should know about coughs, colds, earaches and sore throats