Antibiotic Overuse

When your child is sick, it is comforting to bring them to the doctor just to be sure everything will be alright. No parent wants to see their child suffering through an illness, but a rush for treatment can actually be detrimental to their health. For common illnesses such as a cold, flu, or upper respiratory infection, the best course of action may be to wait it through. When a parent takes their child to the doctor, they expect him to be able to make their child well. However, some illnesses cannot be treated with antibiotics, even though doctors commonly prescribe them. According to the CDC (the Centers for Disease Control, www.cdc.gov), "more than ten million courses of antibiotics are prescribed each year for viral conditions that do not benefit from antibiotics". The main concern the CDC has with the overuse of antibiotics is antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are becoming less effective in treating life-threatening infectious illnesses, and a major cause is this overuse. Antibiotics do not work in treating viral illnesses, and when a doctor prescribes them to treat such viral illnesses, the patient is put at risk of antibiotic resistance as well as side effects and drug interaction.

So, why are doctors prescribing antibiotics in cases where they are not needed and do not even work? The CDC believes some doctors and clinical staff need to be educated on the proper use of antibiotics, and in turn, educate the patients. The staff can ask about the patient's symptoms over the phone, and many times can determine whether the illness is viral or not, saving the parent time and money by not needing to come into the office. This is upsetting to some parents, however, and causes them to believe they're not getting adequate care. Parents' feelings are a huge reason why antibiotics are over prescribed!  Some doctors believe them to be harmless and prescribe them to make the parent feel better about their child's illness. Any "help" that the antibiotics give in viral situations is really just the body's natural immune defenses fighting the illness, and not the prescription.

As a parent, we need to be proactive in keeping our children from the dangers these antibiotics present. We should not be expecting our doctors to give us a prescription every time our children are sick, and we need to ask if the prescription is really necessary when we are given one. I personally have held off a couple days in filling a prescription for my child because I didn't feel it necessary, and the situation cleared up on it's own. I do not like giving my children medicines unless it is absolutely necessary because I want their immune system to do it's job, which in turn, keeps their immune systems strong to fight off and even prevent future illnesses. When my children do get sick, I try natural remedies to help alleviate their symptoms, and I do not plan a trip to the doctor unless the illness seems to be serious enough to require intervention. Simply bringing my child to the doctor's office puts them at risk of exposing them to other illnesses that are being treated there, and I do not want to take that risk unless it is necessary. Sometimes as a parent, we need to use our own judgment, for we know our children better than anyone else.

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