Antibiotics Still being Over-Prescribed, Especially for Children
Doctors are being advised to use greater caution when prescribing antibiotics to kids with symptoms that may be indicative of a viral infection instead of a bacterial one. Although there have been warnings against giving in to patients’ wishes for antibiotics, even when their doctor doubted the potential for helping, such as with cases of influenza, the warning is being focused on those physicians who treat children.
According to a science article in the Washington Post, based on information obtained from Theoklis Zaoutis, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases and an infectious disease specialist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the potential problems that can result from over-prescribing antibiotics are being overlooked. With the increasing number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that we see today, even treatment with antibiotics for bacterial infections contributes to the risk of a serious infection. In addition, the committee reports, antibiotics can cause side effects, such as diarrhea and rashes, while also having the potential to produce allergic reactions.
The key to using antibiotic treatments effectively is for pediatricians to prescribe antibiotics only for those toddlers with severe pain, suffering from ear infections in each ear. Only in those cases where sniffles and coughs are persistent, are getting worse, or are severe should they be treated with antibiotics. For children with sore throats, strep tests should be given only when they have additional symptoms, including fever and swollen tonsils or lymph nodes. For those conditions that justify prescribing antibiotics, the committee recommends amoxicillin, or amoxicillin with clavulanate, for kids who have ear infections and sinusitis.