Why doesn’t my pediatrician prescribe antibiotics every time my child is sick?
Antibiotics only work for infections caused by certain bacteria. They don’t work on viruses.
Bacteria cause many ear infections, some sinus infections, and pneumonia. They also cause strep throat and urinary tract and skin infections. Keep in mind that all prescribed doses of an antibiotic should be finished. If your child stops taking the medicine too soon, the infection could start again.
Viruses cause all colds and flu, most coughs, and most sore throats. There’s no medicine to cure infections caused by viruses. However, you can help your child feel better while the illness runs its course. Your pediatrician may suggest ways you can ease the symptoms.
Antibiotics can kill or slow down certain bacteria from growing, but each time they’re used there’s a chance that resistant bacteria will develop. These resistant bacteria are more likely to cause your child’s next infection and may make it harder to treat your child the next time. A few bacterial infections have already become resistant to many antibiotics and are untreatable. There’s a growing concern that more bacterial infections will become untreatable by commonly prescribed antibiotics.
Resistant bacteria are bacteria that are no longer killed by most antibiotics. Repeated use and misuse of antibiotics are some of the main causes of the increase in resistant bacteria. These resistant bacteria can also be spread to other children and adults.
Using Antibiotics Safely
Keep the following in mind if your child gets sick:
- Antibiotics aren’t always the answer when your child is sick. Ask your pediatrician what the best treatment is for your child.
- Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections. They don’t work on colds and flu.
- Finish all prescribed doses of an antibiotic. If your child feels better and stops the medicine too soon, the infection could return.
- Throw away unused antibiotics. Never save antibiotics for later use.