Red Head Winter is here, and with it comes the onslaught of winter illnesses. When your child gets sick, you might think that the answer to helping him get better is to reach for an antibiotic. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have new guidelines for pediatricians about using antibiotics to treat infections, with the goal of reducing unnecessary prescriptions and the spread of antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic oversuse and resistance

Antibiotic overuse leads to resistance, which means the antibiotic is no longer effective at fighting bacteria. In the last 10 years, there has been a significant increase in the number of bacteria that are now resistant to antibiotics. New strains of antibiotic-resistant infections, such as MRSA and tuberculosis, are a serious world heath issue.

Studies have shown that at least 10 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions are written every year. Children have the highest rate of antibiotic use, and the new strident guidelines are aimed at helping pediatricians make the most informed decisions when it comes to prescribing antibiotics.

Appropriate use of antibiotics

Antibiotics can be used to treat bladder infections, staph infections, sinus infections lasting longer than two weeks, some ear infections and strep throat. Antibiotics should never be used to treat viruses because they do not help. Many common viruses include:

  • Colds
  • Flu
  • Most coughs and bronchitis
  • Sore throats not caused by strep
  • Stomach flu

A viral infection can last as long as two weeks, and the best thing you can do is treat the symptoms and make your child as comfortable as possible.

Contributed by: Patrick S. Pasquariello Jr., MD