Rainbow Pediatrics
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(910) 486-5437
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(910) 426-5430
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Understanding When Antibiotics Aren’t the Best Choice

Alexander Fleming discovered the very first antibiotic, Penicillin, in 1929, yet it wasn’t widely accepted as a treatment for certain infections until the 1940’s. Today, antibiotics have changed the world of medicine. The widespread use of antibiotics has led to drug-resistant germs. This has caused pediatricians and other medical providers to carefully consider when antibiotics are necessary and prescribe appropriately.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 47 million unnecessary antibiotics are prescribed each year. When bacteria are continually exposed to antibiotic medications (overuse), they become resistant. This causes them to be less effective and eventually, no longer work. Over time, stronger antibiotics are required to cure illnesses.

What Infections Do Antibiotics Not Work For?

You may have heard that viral infections do not benefit from antibiotic treatment. This means that the antibiotic will not cure the infection or minimize the risk of others getting sick. Antibiotics only cure infections caused by bacteria, not viruses.

Perhaps your child has a cold with a sore throat that is not strep or perhaps they have the flu and you’ve been told that antibiotics will not help them. That is because the common cold, sore throat and the flu are all examples of viral infections. In some viral infection cases, such as the flu, there are antiviral medications that can be prescribed. These are not antibiotics.

Some common viral infections that do not benefit from antibiotics are:

  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Coughs (most)
  • Sore throat (some)
  • Ear infections (not all)
  • Sinus infections (some)
  • Stomach flu

Taking unnecessary antibiotics can do more harm than good. Our bodies are full of “good” bacteria. By taking an antibiotic for an illness that will not benefit from it, the antibiotic will attack the “good” bacteria. That is why doctors often recommend that patients eat yogurt or take probiotics in addition to the antibiotics they prescribe.

It is important to understand that just because your child’s pediatrician doesn’t prescribe an antibiotic, it doesn’t mean they aren’t sick. It just means that it is best to treat the symptoms associated with their illness instead. This means taking over the counter pain reliever and fever reducers, getting rest and drinking plenty of fluids.

Your child’s health is of the utmost importance to the team at Rainbow Pediatrics. If you suspect your child is sick, please contact our office by calling 910-486-5437 to schedule an appointment today.

Want more parenting tips? Visit the Rainbow Pediatrics Blog here.