When your children get sick, you probably want them to get better as fast as possible, which is why you are tempted to give them antibiotics. However, antibiotics are not always considered as the best solution and can be sometimes more harmful. Antibiotics are the keystone of modern medicine, but their overuse may generate unwanted side effects.
Not all diseases can be cured with antibiotics
Needless to say, antibiotics are essential to cope with bacterial infections. However, it does not mean that all diseases are caused by bacteria. Many of them are caused by fungi, or viruses, which can’t be treated by antibiotics. In addition, overusing antibiotics when they are not actually needed is problematic because it can destroy many healthy bacteria that make up our “microbiome” or the bacteria, fungi, and viruses that account for roughly half the cells in our bodies. In short, it’s important to use antibiotics wisely and only when they are truly necessary.
The perils of overusing antibiotics
- It is believed that antibiotics are able to increase fatal diarrhea cases in children. The majority of common colds is viral, so using antibiotics to treat them plays nothing to stop the infection and may lead to serious side effects. Many studies have shown that a half of antibiotics prescribed for children are for upper respiratory infections associated with the common cold.
- Secondly, antibiotics can upset your kids’ sensitive intestine flora. It’s worth mentioning that the human intestines contain about 100 trillion bacteria of various strains. While some can be deadly, there is a natural balance in the intestine that can be thrown off by antibiotics. These helpful bacteria, known as intestine flora, encourage immunity and proper digestion. As a result, aggressive antibiotics, which are helpful in case you have a serious infection, can destroy the good bacteria while leaving those immune to antibiotics to flourish
- Next, scientists believe that antibiotics turn good bacteria bad. Bacteria have evolved defenses against antibiotics through the process of horizontal gene transfer. Naturally, bacteria don’t need to reproduce to pass along their genetic protection from antibiotics. They can simply pass along these genes to fellow bacteria like students passing notes in a classroom.
- Overusing antibiotics may result in diarrhea, fever, sore throat, or even some serious infections like an ear infection.
Tips to prevent antibiotic overuse in children
- Ask if tests will be done to make sure the right antibiotic is prescribed.
- Give antibiotics to your children properly as the doctor prescribes. And please do not skip doses. Complete the prescribed course of treatment, even when your children start feeling better.
- Only take antibiotics prescribed for your children.Do not share or use leftover antibiotics. Antibiotics treat specific types of infections. Taking the wrong medicine may postpone the correct treatment and allow bacteria to multiply.
- Do not save antibiotics for the next illness.
- Do not ask for antibiotics when your doctor thinks your children do not need them. Remember antibiotics usually have side effects.
- Preventing infections by encouraging your children to practice good hygiene and get them vaccinated.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: June 5, 2017 | Last Modified: June 5, 2017
Antibiotics and Kids: Avoiding Overuse. http://www.whattoexpect.com/childrens-health/overusing-antibiotics. Accessed June 5, 2017.
The Danger of Antibiotic Overuse. http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/antibiotic-overuse.html. Accessed June 5, 2017.