Children and Antibiotics: How Much Is Too Much
With the prevalence of minor childhood illnesses, children and antibiotics have long been associated as kids are prescribed drugs to treat all sorts of ailments. However, pediatricians and parents alike have begun to recognize the dangers of giving children too many antibiotics to treat viral infections such as flu, cold, bronchitis, and sore throats. The misuse and overuse of antibiotics poses serious risks to children.
Dangers of Children and Antibiotics Overuse
Antibiotics are perhaps the most prescribed drugs for treating diseases in children. In fact, antibiotics are largely overused, in part because many doctors believe that parents automatically expect prescriptions for antibiotics whenever their children become sick. Antibiotics have turned into the default drug for many of these doctors and the use of the drugs has become so common that precautions about their side effects are overlooked.
However, medical experts have warned society about antibiotic therapy and its role in the advancement of antimicrobial resistance in children. In plain English, this means that, due to the high or frequent use of antibiotics in children, their bodies begin to develop resistance to antibiotics.
Giving children antibiotics to treat conditions that cannot be treated by them in the first place will only make them resistant to antibiotic treatment. Once the child takes the antibiotic, his or her body will begin to build resistance or immunity. After too much of the antibiotic, it will become useless in fighting bacteria. This is a major problem if the child develops a serious bacterial infection, such as staph or pneumonia, since the antibiotics usually prescribed to treat these ailments may not take effect.
Resistance to antibiotics can affect both the child and the people around him. There are infections and diseases that have long been believed to have been wiped-out already, but that are slowly reappearing now and that- due to antibiotic resistance- can spread more easily.
Misuse of antibiotics has also developed highly resistant bacteria. Children who are normally treated with just one round of antibiotics may now have to be given two or more courses of antibiotics. Some children who have become accustomed to taking oral antibiotics at home may even have to be admitted to hospitals in order to receive intravenous antibiotics in order to get a strong enough dosage.
To avoid developing antibiotic resistances, medical experts are advising parents on some importance practices to be done at home. For instance, parents should not give children antibiotics to treat cold, cough, flu, or ear aches unless the doctor has diagnosed the symptoms as signs of bacterial infection. As much as possible, the symptoms should be treated but the infection should be allowed to naturally run its own course. If ever the child must be given antibiotics, they must be given the full prescribed dosage. Never skip the doses. Further, any leftover antibiotics must be thrown away and not given to other people.
Some antibiotics may not be prescribed for children because of the risk of side effects. For instance, tetracycline can cause permanent staining of teeth in children up to age 8.
This article is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your doctor for answers to your medical questions.