Antibiotics are truly a modern miracle. Before the discovery of penicillin, even a shallow cut could lead to sepsis and eventual death, and infections like pneumonia were almost always fatal. At some point during their childhood, almost every kid will need a course of antibiotics. It could be due to a sore throat, an ear infection, or any number of illnesses.
However, there are some important facts about kids and antibiotics that you should be aware of. By being informed and following the instructions of your pediatrician, you’ll be able to make the most of these drugs with minimal problems.
Antibiotics Are Not Always Called For
Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections. They do absolutely nothing to treat viral diseases. Sometimes, parents are upset when their doctor refuses to prescribe antibiotics for an infection, but there’s a very good reason for this. Taking antibiotics for a viral infection is not only ineffective, but the overuse of antibiotics can contribute to the prevalence of so-called “superbugs.” These are bacteria that are resistant to multiple drugs, such as MRSA.
You should trust your pediatrician to provide a good standard of pediatric care. Through a physical exam as well as lab tests, they can tell if an infection is caused by a virus or bacteria. If they don’t prescribe antibiotics, rest assured it’s for a good reason.
Some Kids Are Allergic to Antibiotics
Sometimes, kids will experience allergic reactions to antibiotics, especially if they’ve never taken that type before. The reaction is often mild—a small rash or slight facial swelling. If this happens, discontinue the antibiotic and contact your pediatrician immediately.
In rare cases, a child will have a severe allergic reaction to a certain antibiotic. If your child has difficulty breathing or speaking, throat swelling, a widespread rash, seizures, or extreme fatigue, call 911 right away.
You should also note that if a child is allergic to a certain antibiotic, they will often have an allergy to other antibiotics of the same family.
You Should Follow the Directions of Your Pediatrician and Pharmacist
Like all medications, antibiotics should be given as directed. Of course, this means following the dosing instructions, but it also means administering the antibiotic for as long as directed. Even if your child’s symptoms resolve and they feel fine, you should still give the antibiotic for the timeframe specified. This is to ensure that the infection does not recur.
Also, many liquid antibiotics need to be kept refrigerated. Be sure that you follow your pharmacist’s instructions in this regard or the instructions printed on the prescription label. If you have any questions, ask!
Many Antibiotics Have Options for Kids
It’s a standard of pediatric care to try to make any treatment as pleasant as possible. You will usually find that most antibiotics are available in liquid form for easier swallowing. What’s more, many pharmacies also offer various kid-friendly flavors to make the medicine go down easier. Penicillin tastes a lot better when it comes in a bubblegum flavor!