The 411 On Kids and Antibiotics

by |  November 21st, 2013

November 21, 2013
Category: Medical
Tags: Parenting   Toddler   Antibiotics   infant

This week, the CDC called for physicians and parents to ‘Get Smart’ about antibiotics. They are most concerned about the overuse of antibiotics, which can sometimes happen for upper respiratory ailments like earaches and sore throats.

First things first…antibiotics are important and for many infections are the best treatment for your child’s ailment and preventing serious complications. The debate is around their overuse meaning if your child might be better off with TLC versus antibiotics.

Two examples:

Earaches. A good number of ear infections (many of which are caused by bacteria) will subside without treatment (particularly in older kids.) For kids younger than two (especially if they have a fever), I generally treat with antibiotics. At this age, kids have a higher risk of complications. For kids over age two, a wait and see approach is prudent. If the ear pain is getting worse, or the child develops a fever, it is then time to write that antibiotic prescription.

Sore Throats.This is another ‘it depends’ situation. Many sore throats are caused by viruses, which means the infection will get better on its own. If it’s a Strep infection—proven by doing a rapid Strep test or throat culture, an antibiotic is in order. The thing is, some providers end up prescribing antibiotics for sore throats that are really caused by a virus—and that is unnecessary.

What’s the harm? Antibiotics are not risk-free. In addition to the emergence of superbugs, they could have side effects such as diarrhea, yeast infections and allergic reactions.

What Should You Do? Every child and situation is unique. Asking for more information from your doctor is the best start. And give your pediatrician as many details as you can about your child’s sickness. When the doctor recommends a treatment ask questions…

  • What can I expect for the duration of the illness?
  • What can I do to make my child feel better for the illness?
  • What should I look out for that may means my child’s condition is worsening?

Want to get more details? Visit the website or participate in the Twitter chat on Friday, Nov. 22, at1 PM (ET). (#SaveAbx)

Dr. Ari Brown, MD

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411 Pediatrics


Dr. Ari Brown founded 411 Pediatrics and After Hours Care in Austin after two decades of education and experience in child development, behavioral pediatrics and pediatric healthcare. Our pediatric associates, consisting of pediatricians, pediatric nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and lactation consultants, share a common goal. We partner with parents to help children grow up healthy, happy, and resilient!

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