Back To Common Illnesses
Antibiotic: Preventing Overuse
Antibiotics are life-saving drugs that kill bacteria, not viruses. Antibiotics play a critical role in modern medicine. Working together, parents and pediatric doctors can help ensure that they will continue to be an effective tool in the future.
- Only bacterial illnesses should be treated with antibiotics. When antibiotics are given to treat viral illness, like colds, croup and most sore throats, they have no effect on the illness and increase the likelihood that a child will develop an infection that is resistant to the medication.
- Don't take antibiotics for a viral illness to try to prevent a bacterial illness like an ear infection or sinusitis. This sometimes works, but most kids with a viral illness will not get a bacterial infection and taking antibiotics for prevention leads to many kids being treated unnecessarily and promotes antibiotic resistance.
- Antibiotics have side effects like tummy upset, diarrhea and allergic reactions. If antibiotics are used indiscriminately, more kids will develop an allergy and will not be able to take the medicine when they really need it.
- Some bacterial illnesses have the potential to get better without an antibiotic. Half of ear infections in children over 2 years old will resolve on their own. This means that as your child gets older, you will be offered the option to treat the symptoms of the bacterial illness with over the counter medicines, and start an antibiotic if the symptoms fail to improve within a couple of days.