Decreasing Antibiotic Use
Doctors are now writing fewer prescriptions for antibiotics for young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommend an end to routine antibiotic prescriptions. Their goal is to reduce antibiotic use and the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria created by antibiotic overuse, which has made many infections harder to treat.
Though many parents understand the rationale, I still feel like I have to play “bad cop” when I explain to parents why their child will have to fight it off on their own. This is actually such a large problem that the CDC created a website to help with education for patient, parents and physician at www.cdc.gov/getsmart/
A quick tutorial on antibiotics: Antibiotics are medications used for bacterial, fungal and some parasitic infections. They do not work against viruses. Viruses account for a majority of colds, “the flu,” upper respiratory infections, coughs and sore throats.
I know what you are thinking, because I’ve heard it often, “I usually get a Z-pak and that clears me up.”
However, studies have shown that areas where doctors prescribe a large amount of antibiotics also tend to be the areas with more resistant bacteria. Resistant bacteria or “super bugs” are bacteria that are no longer killed by some antibiotics. So now some of our “go to” antibiotics no longer work against them. This means that every antibiotic prescription matters.
So how can you treat you or your child’s illness without antibiotics? Here are some suggestions:
- Make sure you/your child stays well hydrated. Fluids, fluids, fluids
- Get plenty of rest
- Try humidified air (using a cold air humidifier) to help with breathing.
- If congested, try saline drops for children who cannot blow their nose. 1 drop per nostril then suction bulb out any boogers (aka secretions in doctor’s talk). Don’t be too aggressive with this!
Call your doctor if your child:
- Has a significant decrease the amount of breast milk or formula and/or food they are eating
- Has a dramatic decrease in number of wet diapers
- Becomes increasingly irritable and inconsolable
- Has a persistently elevated temperature of greater than or equal to 100.4 despite receiving medications to help with fever.
- Call your doctor if you: Have symptoms that last past 10-14 days or that worsen after 5-7 days or have new severe symptoms start to occur.
Be Well and Fight Those Viruses!