By now, we hope to have sufficiently covered antibiotics’ wholesale inability to combat viral infections, such as colds, flus, sore throats, coughs, bronchitis, and good, old-fashioned runny noses. But just to recap: Antibiotics cannot kill viruses or the common cold. They won’t even put the tiniest dent in your misery.
The good news is that antibiotics have proven to be extremely effective against bacterial agents, which are the usual suspects behind ear, sinus, and urinary tract infections, as well as strep throat. However, because some viruses mimic bacterial infections, and vice-versa, the decision to prescribe should only be made by a qualified pediatric provider, who is trained to accurately diagnose and treat such conditions.
Antibiotics do kill certain bacteria, but there is a particularly nasty caveat – one that kills upwards of 23,000 people per year: resistant bacteria. When antibiotics are used too frequently or incorrectly, resistance can occur. This means that the bacteria evolves, developing the means to survive in the face of medicines traditionally used to weaken or destroy them. Treating infections subsequently becomes more difficult, and can ultimately lead to virtually untreatable superbugs.
Interestingly, scientists at the Scripps Research Institute recently reengineered the drug vancomycin, resulting in a stronger, smarter superbug-killer that may just hold the secret to turning back the tide of resistant bacteria. In the meantime, adults and children, alike, should do their part to deliver a blow to the development of resistant bacteria by taking the following precautions:
- If prescribed an antibiotic, follow all directions on the bottle or pamphlet.
- Be certain to finish the entire prescription. Never cease a course of treatment simply because symptoms are no longer present.
- Never save unused prescriptions to use at a later date.
- Never share prescriptions.
- Discuss all concerns with your child’s health care provider, who can guide you in regards to treatment, including any medications that should be administered.
KinderMender cares about our patients’ enduring health. Our specialists excel at providing accurate diagnoses and prescriptions for antibiotics when legitimately necessary. Regardless, if your child is ill, call us today, or stop by one of our three convenient Maryland locations.