When a child is sick, providers will use judgment before prescribing antibiotics.
Due to overprescribing, there has been a rise in resistant bacteria that don't respond to antibiotics that may have worked in the past. This is making it harder to treat bacteria, which cause pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, meningitis and skin infections.
In addition to antibiotic resistance, overusing antibiotics can lead to other problems, like allergic reactions, diarrhea or side effects. Antibiotics kill many different bacteria, even the good ones that help keep the body healthy. Sometimes taking antibiotics can cause a person to develop diarrhea due to a lack of good bacteria that help digest food properly. In some cases, bad bacteria, like Clostridium difficile, or C diff, may overgrow and cause infections.
When a child gets sick, keep these tips in mind:
- Take antibiotics only for bacterial infections. Let milder illnesses, especially those thought to be caused by viruses, run their course. This helps prevent antibiotic-resistant germs from developing. Let the doctor decide if an illness is mild or not. If symptoms persist or worsen, the child should be seen.
- Seek advice and ask questions.
- Ask your doctor about whether your child's illness is bacterial or viral, and discuss the risks and benefits of antibiotics. If it's a virus, ask about ways to treat symptoms. Don't pressure your doctor to prescribe antibiotics. Ask your doctor about ways to treat the symptoms that are making your child uncomfortable, such as a stuffy nose or scratchy throat. The key to building a good relationship with your doctor is open communication, so work together toward that goal.
- Remember: Antibiotics can only treat bacterial infection if taken for the full amount of time prescribed by the doctor. It also takes a couple days for the medicine to kick in. Do not let your child take the antibiotics longer than prescribed.
- Never use old antibiotics or those prescribed to another family member.
- Take steps to help fight antibiotic resistance by preventing the spread of infections. Encourage hand washing, make sure your child is up to date on immunizations and keep kids out of school when they are sick.