With school underway, you may be waiting for the afternoon your child comes home with a dreaded sneeze or sniffle. Before that happens, be sure to understand the facts about antibiotics – how to use them and when to use them.
First, antibiotics cannot cure colds, the flu, most coughs and most sore throats because those are caused by viruses. Antibiotics don’t fight viruses, they fight bacteria. They also shouldn’t be used to treat ear infections, as those often resolve themselves in children. Don't demand antibiotics; let your doctor determine if they are the appropriate treatment.
Also, never take or give your children antibiotics when they are not really needed. Taking antibiotics when you do not need them can make bacteria stronger. These bacteria are harder to kill. This is called antibiotic resistance. When bacteria resist antibiotics, you can become very sick.
Antibiotics cannot cure your illness. You will need stronger medicine or a stay in the hospital to get well. Organisms that cause tuberculosis, gonorrhea, malaria and childhood ear infections are now more difficult to treat than they were decades ago because of bacterial resistance. More than 70 percent of the bacteria that cause infections in hospitals are now resistant to at least one antibiotic. Also, antibiotic-resistant bacteria won’t be limited to you; they can quickly spread to those around you.
Remember these three "Don'ts" for proper antibiotic use:
- Don’t stop taking the full course of medication because you or your child is feeling better. Not completing the full course may help bacteria become resistant to that drug. So can skipping doses.
- Don't take a friend's medicine or use leftover pills from a previous illness. It may not be the correct medicine or dose for your current condition.
- Don't take any antibiotics that have not been prescribed for you. Don't take any medicines you buy without a prescription unless you know all the ingredients.
Finally, if you don't start feeling better after you've been on antibiotics for a couple of days, call your doctor. You may have an infection with an organism that is resistant to the antibiotic you were prescribed. It's also important to call if you are not taking antibiotics and your symptoms haven't improved in two weeks, or if they seem unusual or severe at any point. People with chronic conditions should call even sooner.
If your doctor has prescribed an antibiotic for you or your child, be sure to take it exactly as directed. And get well soon!
Submitted by premium sponsor Springfield Clinic's Prompt Care. For more information on Springfield Clinic and their services, visit our Mom's Choice Directory.
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