Chicago Health | Homepage
The Kid’s Doctor: Get smart about antibiotics

The Kid’s Doctor: Get smart about antibiotics

By Sue Hubbard, M.D., www.kidsdr.com

When your child is sick, do you know the best uses for antibiotics? Many parents do not, so here’s how to stay in the know.

It really is the time of year when “everyone” is getting sick, and fortunately most of these illnesses are due to common viruses that circulate during the winter months. I see so many parents bring their young children with recurrent coughs and congestion, and the strains of “Can’t we just have an antibiotic?” are being heard throughout the office.

There isn’t a parent who doesn’t want to try and make their sick child better faster, but antibiotics are usually not the answer. Antibiotics only work for infections that are caused by certain bacteria. Unfortunately, antibiotics do not treat viruses. Viruses cause most of the seasonal cough, cold, congestion and flu viruses that we see throughout the year.

Viruses are easily spread from person to person, typically via droplets that are aerosolized when a person coughs or sneezes. The other sneaky thing about viruses is that the virus may be shed by a person before they even feel sick. In other words, the person that is sitting next to you at church, or to your child at school may be innocently spreading a virus 12 to 24 hours before they even begin to feel badly. Knowing that, it is hard to point a finger at who “got your child sick,” as we all come into contact with germs throughout the day.

Many viral infections, such as a cold, may have symptoms that last for up to two weeks. This is not a “quick fix” type of illness. In fact, the best medicine for a cold, viral sore throat or the flu is the age old fluids, rest, fever reducer and “tincture of time.” An antibiotic given inappropriately may actually do more harm than good. By taking an antibiotic when they are not needed you may increase the risk of getting an infection later that is resistant to typical antibiotic treatment.

As you probably already have heard, antibiotic resistance is on the rise, and one reason may be the overuse of antibiotics when they are not needed. Taking an antibiotic is appropriate when needed for a bacterial sore throat, such as strep throat (which is diagnosed by a strep test), or for ear infections in young children. When your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, you want to take it exactly as directed and always finish the entire prescription. Even if your child is feeling better several days after starting an antibiotic, finish the medication or the infection may return.

Lastly, if you have any unused antibiotic throw it away. Never save it for another use. Do not give an antibiotic for one child to another child in the family. Believe it or not, it is fairly common for one child to have a strep throat while a sibling may have a viral upper respiratory infection that does not need to be treated with an antibiotic. Go figure, not everyone in the family gets the same illness at the same time.

I tell my patients it is a good thing to “brag” that your child has never been on an antibiotic, almost like getting that straight-A report card. And remember: Each viral illness is actually helping to make your child stronger by building antibody for future illness. Small victories with each cold!

(Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award-winning pediatrician, medical editor and media host. “The Kid’s Doctor” TV feature can be seen on more than 90 stations across the U.S. Submit questions at http://www.kidsdr.com. The Kid’s Doctor e-book, “Tattoos to Texting: Parenting Today’s Teen,” is now available from Amazon and other e-book vendors.)

(c) 2016, KIDSDR.COM. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap

Innovative programs provide bridge between pediatric and adult care By Nancy Maes The teen years can be

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Environmental Nutrition By Matthew Kadey, M.S., R.D., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter There is only so much food you

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I seem to be very

Start treatment now to prevent spring allergy symptoms

Start treatment now to prevent spring allergy symptoms

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I have spring allergies. Every

Does your doctor’s gender matter?

Does your doctor’s gender matter?

By Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. Harvard Health Blog I've read medical research studies that surprised me. I've

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

April 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
March 26, 2017 March 27, 2017 March 28, 2017 March 29, 2017 March 30, 2017 March 31, 2017 April 1, 2017
April 2, 2017 April 3, 2017 April 4, 2017 April 5, 2017 April 6, 2017 April 7, 2017 April 8, 2017
April 9, 2017 April 10, 2017 April 11, 2017 April 12, 2017 April 13, 2017 April 14, 2017 April 15, 2017
April 16, 2017 April 17, 2017 April 18, 2017 April 19, 2017 April 20, 2017 April 21, 2017 April 22, 2017
April 23, 2017 April 24, 2017 April 25, 2017 April 26, 2017 April 27, 2017 April 28, 2017 April 29, 2017
April 30, 2017 May 1, 2017 May 2, 2017 May 3, 2017 May 4, 2017 May 5, 2017 May 6, 2017

Categories

Recent Comments

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

A Hazy Shade of Healthcare: What does tort reform

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives