antibiotics for kidsNo parent likes it when their child falls sick, what more when they are prescribed antibiotics. Always check with your doctor if antibiotics are absolutely necessary, and do be careful to follow dosage requirements. Here’s why…

Most of us trust the doctors to prescribe what’s best for our child. After all, they’re the ones with the medical degrees and diplomas, and years of experience under their belt to boot! As patients, we do need to have faith in our healthcare professionals, not question their every diagnosis. And yet, antibiotics is one area that is always of some concern among parents, when it is prescribed to their kids.

Simply put, antibiotics are medicines used to treat specific bacterial infections (eg. ear infections). They are different from medicines used to treat viral infections (eg. influenza), which are called antivirals. Nor are they similar to antifungals, which treat fungal infections (eg. yeast infections). Different types of medicines are used to treat different types of infections, and using the wrong medicine for the job is futile, and may even cause harm.

It follows, therefore, that your child’s doctor first seeks to understand if his or her infection is caused by a virus, fungi or bacteria. If it is deemed bacterial, then an antibiotic would be prescribed. You should ensure that the medicine is taken for the stipulated period, otherwise the infection may not be cleared completely, and symptoms may recur.

Antibiotics work by killing or slowing down certain bacteria from growing. However there is a risk that resistant bacteria develop in the process, which can cause new infection and reduce subsequent effectiveness of the antibiotic. It is important to ascertain that every usage of antibiotics is necessary and appropriate for the illness, to avoid misuse of the medicine and an increase in this resistant bacteria.

As concerned parents, resist the urge to ask your doctor for antibiotic every time your child falls sick, even though you want him or her to recover as quickly as possible. Most viral infections will get better over time without any need for strong medication.

If your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, do clarify that it is indeed necessary, and then follow the dosage guidelines closely. Once you have started on a round of antibiotics, it’s vital that you don’t stop midway, even if your child’s symptoms seems markedly better, as this may lead to a secondary infection if the bacteria is not fully killed. And never give your child antibiotics ‘left over’ from a previous bout of similar illness. Always only give them as prescribed by your doctor.

By Dorothea Chow