Should your child take antibiotics?

By Drum Digital
19 May 2014

Do you half expect to leave with a script for antibiotics in hand every time you take your child to the doctor? With the rise of the superbug and warnings about overprescribed antibiotics grabbing the attention of people all over the world, now more than ever, moms should be savvier about the meds prescribed for their kids.

Cape Town paediatrician Dr Iqbal Karbanee says doctors in general should prescribe fewer antibiotics and when they do, they should be given only after very careful consideration. “Parents on their part should not expect quick-fix solutions. Neither should they demand antibiotics. Infections must run their course and in the process, the child's immune system becomes more experienced.” Parents need to change their mindset and view antibiotics more as a last resort when their little ones fall ill, he adds.

However, if antibiotics are absolutely necessary, the key is to ensure you and your child are using them safely. Here are a few tips:

Follow through

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times – always finish a course of antibiotics. Unfortunately though, an immediate improvement in a sick child leaves a lot of moms so relieved they simply stop administering the meds. “Not completing the course contributes to the emergence of resistance and this undermines the efficacy of antibiotic usage,” says Dr Karbanee. Simply put, when your kids don’t finish a course of antibiotics, infections can come back stronger and render the next round of antibiotics less effective.

Don’t reuse

Medical care and medicine are expensive and busy moms often think storing antibiotics for future use is an accepted way of saving money and the time of going to yet another doctor’s appointment for the same symptoms. The advent of internet has worsened this as many moms are now simply looking up their children’s symptoms and then treating them with whatever meds are in the back of the refrigerator or the bottom of the first aid kit. This is never a good idea and can be extremely dangerous for your child!

Antibiotics can’t treat all infections

Antibiotics are only effective in treating bacterial infections, not viral ones. If your doctor doesn’t tell you which kind of infection your child has, ask! Antibiotics might seem like a quick solution so you can all get on with your lives. However, if used incorrectly or when overprescribed it can weaken your child’s immune system considerably. If you’re not sure your child really needs antibiotics, insist your doctor explains why it’s being prescribed. If you still feel uneasy, get a second opinion – your child’s health comes first.

-Lindsay de Freitas

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