When your child is sick, your first instinct is to find a way to make him feel better. So, you rush him to the doctor, expecting a magic medicine (antibiotic) to make him feel better. When you leave without a prescription you may be disappointed and frustrated with your doctor when in fact you shouldn’t be.
Antibiotics only kill bacteria, not viruses. Unfortunately, viruses cause most childhood ailments including the common cold, cough, most sore throats, flu, fifths disease, and hand, foot, and mouth disease; therefore, antibiotics won’t work for these conditions. When your child doesn’t have a bacterial infection, giving an antibiotic only results in negative side effects. Additionally, if antibiotics are used when they aren’t needed, antibiotic resistance can develop. This reduces their effectiveness in treating other infections. It is therefore imperative that antibiotics be used only when required so that they continue to work to fight serious infections down the road.
Here are a few tips to prevent antibiotic overuse:
- When you visit your doctor, never ask for an antibiotic. If your child needs one, he will prescribe one without being asked. It has been shown that doctors are more likely to prescribe an unnecessary medication if asked by the patient, or even if they think the patient wants one.
- Remember, if your child has a virus, symptoms will pass with time. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about non-drug solutions or over-the-counter medications that can help ease symptoms and make your child feel better.
- The best way to prevent the spread of infections is to wash your hands
Despite our best efforts, our children will likely require therapy with an antibiotic at some point. Common bacterial infections that may require antibiotic therapy include ear and sinus infections, strep throat, and tonsillitis.
If your child does require an antibiotic, you should consider also giving a probiotic to minimize antibiotic side effects, such as diarrhea and upset stomach. Antibiotics also kill the good bacteria in your gut that are required for normal function. Replacing these good bacteria with a probiotic such as Florastor Kids can minimize these unwanted effects.