Giving antibiotics for mild cold symptoms, such as a runny nose without fever, will not shorten the duration of your child’s symptoms nor will it prevent them from getting worse.
The average cold lasts 7-10 days, some even longer, and consists of mild symptoms such as runny or stuffy nose possibly accompanied by a mild cough. Most colds are caused by viruses for which antibiotics are ineffective. If you are worried, it's always a reasonable idea to have your pediatrician examine your child for signs of an ear infection or pneumonia. If they do not find anything worrisome, you will not be prescribed antibiotics. To combat a cold, keep your child well rested and give them plenty of fluids. In cold, dry climates, a cool mist humidifier can help loosen nasal congestion.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, February 2019