A for Anti-biotic and A for Avoid

“This surprises me! She is only three and she has been prescribed antibiotic for a cough and cold? We really do not have doctors in the UK doing so for older children, forget a three-year-old,” blasted my sister when I read the prescription shared by my pediatrician for my little one. Agreed, she had severe cold and cough, but then really wasn’t too sure if she needed a dose of anti-biotic to do away with the infection. This was the reason that I thought it would be a good idea to check with my pharmacist sister who resides in the UK and runs a chain of pharmacy stores.

 Prescribing antibiotics to children and elders isn’t uncommon in India. There are just a handful of pediatricians who advise keeping away from medicines. For e.g. my pediatrician who then was on a holiday (because of which I had to take my little one to a new one) is one of the best I have met so far. He has made a list of natural food items to be given / avoided for common ailments like cough, cold, fever, dysentery, stomach ache etc. In majority of the case he strongly advises waiting for two days for the ailments to cure naturally, specially so in case of dysentery. I so remember his words – Let the bug come out. Medicines will just give a superficial cure.

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 So am I for antibiotics?

NO – in caps! Anti-biotic should be the last resort of treatment. As aptly described on healthychildren.org – Parents need to know that using antibiotics when they are not the right medicine will not help and may even cause harm to children. Antibiotics are medicines used to treat infections and they target bacteria, not viruses. ” The article further states that the repeated use and misuse of antibiotics can lead to resistant bacteria which means that these bacteria can no longer be killed by the antibiotics commonly used to treat bacterial infection.

 More often than not, cold, earache and other ailments are caused by viruses. Antibiotics are used mostly for infections caused by bacteria. They work against bacterial infections. They do not work on colds and flu.

 Rahima Baldwin Dancy in her book – You are your Child’s First Teacher, wonderfully says –  A child needs time and rest to fight off an illness and to consolidate the physical and developmental changes that may be occurring. If given sufficient time to recuperate, the child’s system will become weaker and more prone to complications or future infections. Mothers who have to work are often tempted to give antibiotics immediately (suppressing symptoms) so the child can be back in preschool within twenty-four hours, not realizing that he needs quiet time to regroup his inner forces and to heal.

Questions you should shy away from asking if an antibiotic has been prescribed

  • Is there no other alternative medicine?
  • Is the antibiotic prescribed right for your child?

Strictly complete the course and do not give the same antibiotic to your other child / anyone else in the family. Use different bottles / tablets for each.

 Medication for children is no child’s play and when it comes to giving antibiotics, it is strongly recommended that you are doubly sure of the same.

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