Safe and Appropriate Antibiotic Use

Safe and Appropriate Antibiotic Use

Antibiotics are a modern miracle. Before antibiotics, even the slightest cut could become infected and lead to death or amputation. Many dangerous infections such as pneumonia and strep throat had no effective treatment. Today, thanks to the development of such medications over the last eighty years, doctors can not only treat many highly dangerous infections but actually prevent them. If your child is prescribed antibiotics or if you believe that your child has an illness that requires their use, there are certain things you should know beforehand. There are also things you’ll want to keep in mind if your child is taking these medications. Following proper procedures can will make sure the medication works as directed and prevents your child from getting sicker.


Do You Need Antibiotics?

Before you ask for antibiotics, keep in mind that antibiotics can only treat certain types of illnesses. These are medical problems that are caused by bacteria such as whooping cough, strep throat, and urinary tract infections. They can not be used against diseases that are caused by viruses such as the common cold and the far more serious flu. Some illnesses, such as middle ear infections, chest infections, and sinus infections can be caused by either bacteria or viruses. Your doctor will determine what kind of medical problem your child has and what caused it. If they determine that your child has an illness caused by bacteria, they will then decide which particular antibiotic should be prescribed.


Antibiotic Resistance

While antibiotics are a marvelous tool, they are not foolproof. Over time, certain strains of bacteria can evolve and change. As they do, antibiotics may no longer work as effectively or even at all. New antibiotics are always in development. However, it is important to preserve existing lines of treatment. More than two million people will get infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Thousands will die from such infections. This is why it is imperative to take special care when administering medications to your child or taking them yourself.


What You Can Do

The first thing you should do when prescribed antibiotics is take all the medications given over the prescribed time frame. Even if you feel better, your child should take all the doses in the bottle. Do not leave any around in case they get ill again. Your children should also not share medications prescribed to other family members. If you think one of your other children has similar symptoms, it’s best to bring them to double check and make the right diagnosis. If you fail to complete the course of treatment, the bacteria may develop resistance. The infection can return again. Your child can also spread the bacteria to others around you, further increasing the need for antibiotics. When you are sick, it’s best to wash your hands as often as possible. Following these standard medical practices will also keep antibiotics available in the future for your children and all those who rely on this crucial medical safety net.