Antibiotics in children.
If your child has a sore throat, cough, or runny nose, you might expect the doctor to prescribe antibiotics. However, most of the time children don’t need antibiotics to treat a respiratory illness as most respiratory infections are caused by viruses. 1
Antibiotics fight bacteria, not viruses. If your child has a bacterial infection, antibiotics may help. However, if your child has a viral infection, antibiotics will not help your child feel better or keep others from getting sick. 1
When does your child need antibiotics?
Your child might need an antibiotic if your doctor suspects a bacterial infection. E.g.:
- A cough does not get better in 14 days 1
- Symptoms of a sinus infection (inflammation of the cavities around your nasal passages) that does not get better in 10 days, or they get better and then worse again 1,2
- Your child has a nasal discharge and a fever of at least 39°C for several days in a row, or nasal discharge and a headache that just won’t go away 1
- Pneumonia (infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs) 1,3
- Throat infection 1
Taking antibiotics responsibly 4
It’s tempting to stop taking an antibiotic as soon as you feel better. But the full treatment is necessary to kill the disease-causing bacteria. Failure to take an antibiotic as prescribed can result in the need to resume treatment later. It may also promote the spread of antibiotic-resistant properties among harmful bacteria.
What is antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s most pressing health problems. 4 Antibiotics are powerful medications designed to kill bacteria or stop its growth. However, there are times when antibiotics can be harmful. 5 The misuse and overuse of antibiotics encourages bacteria to change, so that medicines don’t work as well to get rid of them. This is called antibiotic resistance.1
When bacteria are resistant to the medicines used to treat them, it’s easier for infections to spread from person to person. Antibiotic-resistant infections are also more expensive to treat and harder to cure. 1 Any bacterium that survives an antibiotic treatment can multiply and pass on its resistant properties 4. The fact that bacteria can develop resistance to a medication is normal and expected. But the way that medications are used affects how quickly and to what extent resistance occurs 4.
DISCLAIMER: This editorial has been commissioned and brought to you by iNova Pharmaceuticals. Content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.
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- American Academy of Pediatrics. Choosing Wisely. Antibiotics for a sore throat, cough or runny nose. When children need them – and when they don’t. [online] February 2013 [cited January 2019]; Available from URL: http://www.choosingwisely.org/patient-resources/antibiotics-for-respiratory-illness-in-children/
- Mayo Clinic. Acute sinusitis. [online] February 2018 [cited February 2019]; Available from URL: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acute-sinusitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351671?p=1
- Mayo Clinic/ Pneumonia. [online] March 2018 [cited February 2019]; Available from URL: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pneumonia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354204?p=1
- Mayo Clinic. Antibiotics: Are you misusing them? [online] January 2018 [cited February 2019]; Available from URL: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/antibiotics/art-20045720
- Mayo Clinic. Antibiotic resistance: Understanding the connection to antibiotic use in animals raised for food. [online] March 2018 [cited February 2019]; Available from URL: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infectious-diseases/in-depth/antibiotic-resistance/art-20135516