As a medication for myself, I can count the number of times I have taken antibiotic medications this year, but it’s not the same with my kids. We have been to the hospital more than a few times this year, and you can bet antibiotics were some of the most common medications we got.
Oh, there were all sorts of brands and combinations but they are all exactly the same, so much so that all I do when I get the prescription is just look at the latest brand of antibiotics we have been asked to buy. That’s how jaded I have become. While I know that too much of these medicines isn’t good for them, it can be a tough decision not to give, when you think that it will help your child.
But it looks like it might be time to seek alternatives. My younger son had been running a temperature and had even been acting lethargic at the beginning of this month, a trend that I had noticed for a while, meaning I always end up taking him to the hospital and spending money on drugs almost every month. But this time, I was fed up, so I called him and asked everyone to pray for healing for him. Nah, I’m not spending money on buying drugs for him this month or ever again. It’s a testimony that by the next day, he was feeling fine and as I write, he hasn’t complained of any issues and won’t, in Jesus name!
Anyways, I still mentioned his complaints to a doctor-friend of mine, who had treated him in the past and even given us some medication free of charge. He was the one who told me my son was probably taking too much antibiotics, after I recounted the number of anti-malaria, antibiotics and pain medication he had taken in the last three months alone.
Instead of prescribing another set of drugs, which I wouldn’t have bought anyways, as I had told him I was tired of buying drugs, he asked that I increase his Vitamin C intake as well as ensure he eats eggs, as that helps boost his immune system, enabling his body to fight when attacked by infections. We are doing that already.
Wanting to know more about this, I asked Dr. Google, which threw up an array of interesting scientific facts on the use of antibiotics, especially in children.
According to a study by the British Medical Journal, antibiotic resistance is one of the side effects of taking too much antibiotics.
The study says that even though antibiotic resistance is a real threat for all age groups, the danger is especially high for children. This study looked specifically at children who had been treated for urinary tract infections caused by the E. coli bacteria and found they were 13 – 23 times more likely to contract a drug-resistant infection within the six months that followed, if they were given antibiotics.
On its part, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says the bacteria targeted by most antibiotic drugs are adapting, becoming resistant to the antibiotics we have relied on so heavily for so long. It went further to say that an estimated 2 million people are contracting antibiotic-resistant infections each year; 23,000 of these people die. That is a depressing figure.
In all, experts, some of whom are paediatricians, agree that parents can do a lot to lower their child’s risk of developing antibiotic resistance by using antibiotics only as prescribed.
The use of antibiotics in a child should be a decision that is shared between a parent and the child’s paediatrician once they fully understand the risks and benefits of the antibiotic and the indication for its use. Not the parent-complain-doctor-prescribe routine that often happens.
Although, as a parent with a sick kid, the temptation is to utilize whatever methods are available to get your child back to 100 percent is present. It might not be the best option for your child, hence you need to work with the doctor on this one. A fast track option might be damaging the child in the end.
Sometimes, the best treatment is to just wait it out. Providing supportive care to the child, such as pain relief, fluids and nasal saline with suction, while it can be difficult to do as a parent, it is still doable.
So, what do antibiotics really do? These drugs treat bacterial infections only; as such, they’re powerless against viruses.
A child with viral illness like a head cold, bronchitis or even the flu, will no not benefit from using antibiotics, except just putting that child at further risk for drug-resistant infections.
When a child does need an antibiotic, proper use also plays a role in the fight against drug-resistant infections.
One more thing that’s important is completion of a course of antibiotics as prescribed. Even when the child will feel better within a couple days of starting the medication, which might make some parents believe it is acceptable to stop it. It is still not okay not to complete the medications.
Some parents think it is acceptable to save some of the medication for a future illness or will give ‘leftover’ antibiotics to another family member. And this is so me.
However, I have learnt that the only thing this does is to increase the chance of antibiotic resistance.
This last piece needs to be reiterated; the use of antibiotics to treat viral diseases is a no-no. It doesn’t help us or our children.
May God help us all moms.
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