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SuperMouse's avatar

Parents, do you try to avoid antibiotics for your children?

Asked by SuperMouse (30785points) February 13th, 2010

My ex called this morning to tell me our oldest son has a runny nose and wet cough. He wanted to take him to the doctor and get him on an antibiotic. I argued against that idea telling him that if he was still feeling miserable Monday I would take him in. With all the press they have received, I tend to want to avoid antibiotics if I possibly can. I’m wondering how other parents feel about antibiotics being prescribed to kids.

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22 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

Antibiotics do nothing for viral infections, and colds are viral. Some Drs. prescribe them anyway because the parents want something, but I think it is better to be cautious, and make sure you are treating a bacterial infection that the immune system can’t easily deal with before taking any antibiotics.

lilikoi's avatar

Antibiotics like @dpworkin said are specifically use to treat bacterial infections only. I think everyone benefits from being exposed to bacteria as your body builds up tolerances against bad stuff. I only use antibiotics under the most dire of circumstances when it is clear my body will not be able to fend off the infection itself. If you constantly depend on antibiotics, your body can build up an immunity to them and then when you really need’em it may not be strong enough to work, and you’ll need something even stronger and more invasive to your body. Pesticides put you in the same kind of circular loop, only with plants.

A runny nose and a wet cough, in my experience, was usually nothing more than the common cold.

Judi's avatar

It’s better to treat the congestion symptoms early if your child is prone to ear infections. If it turns into an ear infection, don’t avoid the antibiotics. That pain is excruciating.

Seek's avatar

Antibiotics should be prescribed only when absolutely necessary.

It does nothing more than a grave disservice to the child to load their immune system with antibiotics. This causes their body to not be able to fight off illness on its own, and can make common illnesses very serious, and at that point, the body (and the bacteria) will have built up a tolerance to treatment.

Not good.

There is a medicine (called Ceron) that my son’s pediatrician prescribes to him for congestion. It makes him drowsy, so I don’t like to give it to him, but it works for nights when he’s so stopped up it’s hard to sleep.

MissAusten's avatar

I agree. I only want antibiotics for my kids (and for myself) if there’s a bacterial infection. Otherwise, what’s the point? I try to avoid giving the kids any medication that they don’t need. Tempting as it is to dose them up with Benedryl from time to time just to slow them down!

Trillian's avatar

I’m sure that if @shilolo (Is that how you spell it?) were here you’d hear chapter and verse about unnecessary antibiotics with proper references. People who insist on being given antibiotics because the feel like they otherwise have not been treated are idiots. Doctors who cave in and give them are worse.
Take the child by all means if it gives you comfort, but try to educate your husband about the difference between a virus and a bacteria.
The other thing of great importance that so many people neglect is to take the full course of antibiotice when you are given them. If you stop when you feel better this can lead to the “bug getting stronger” to put it in easy terms. Then the inclination to keep the leftovers in the medicine cabinet kick in and then one day someone says “koff,koff, I don’t feel so good.” and you say “I have some antibiotics, you can take them.” The thing is, you don’t know what the person has, if they actually need an antibiotic, what spectrum antibiotic they might need, or if they are going to be allergic. Also, of course you’re not going to have enough for a full course, so basically what you’ve done is practice medicine without a license.

casheroo's avatar

I avoid them when they’re unnecessary. I want proof that my child needs it, not just a doctor looking at his ears and throat and claiming he has an infection. Sorry, but they actually say most ear infections are viral and need to run their course…so I wouldn’t put my child on antibiotics without testing.
My son was given antibiotics once, for an ear infection…he had no symptoms at all, and they said he had it at his well baby check up. So, I gave him them, and he got the nastiest diarrhea, and so I stopped the medication and he got better. Antibiotics are rough on a little ones digestive tract.
So, yes, I avoid it, especially for just a cough or congestion…I’d want to let it run it’s course and do at home treatment first. But, if they were obviously very sick with a fever over 102 and nothing was helping, I’d take them to the doctor.

janbb's avatar

I used them when the infections were proven or suspected to be bacterial; not for viruses. My pediatricians were reasonably cautious but it was some years ago. I think many doctors are more aware of the dangers of over-prescribing them now, but people do still sometimes insist. Part of the danger is that as they are used more, their effective is lessened and the danger of antibiotic resistant super-bugs arising are increased.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Trillian my ex is the king of antibiotic use. He gets a head cold and wants a round of Cipro.

My youngest son had constant ear infections for his first six months and I watched as the antibiotics tore his stomach apart. When his pediatrician mentioned prophylactic antibiotics I was out of there like a shot. An ENT put tubes in and the little guy hasn’t had an ear infection or round of antibiotics since. Because of that experience and my discomfort with it, I am hyper-vigilant about what my kids are given. I’m pretty sure that if we wait until Monday the worst of this will be past and no one will be tempted to write a scrip.

Snarp's avatar

The problem really isn’t the patients or the parents, it’s the doctors. They should be well aware of the issues of drug resistant bacteria that can develop from inappropriate use of antibiotics and it’s unethical for them to prescribe antibiotics when they have no reason to believe that the problem is bacterial. I’ve taken my son to the pediatrician for colds that lingered too long just to get him checked out, and none of the pediatricians in the practice ever prescribed an antibiotic except for severe ear infections.

knitfroggy's avatar

I don’t like to put my kids on antibiotics unless I’m really sure they need it. Our pediatrician doesn’t like to put them on meds unless they’ve been snotty and coughing for at least 5 days. But of course, sometimes they have to have them. My daughter just got over strep throat this week with five days of antibiotics. She is prone, still at 10 years old, to horrible ear infections. She gets them so badly that her ear drums burst and she has a permanent hole in one from it bursting. The ENT doesn’t want to fix it until she is a little older and can go with out ear tubes longer. So, she gets antibiotics for her ears very often.

ubersiren's avatar

I do try to avoid antibiotics for all the reasons mentioned above. There’s no sense in giving a kid a medicine that isn’t going to fight the infection or, if given too often, builds and immunity to it. Our son has only ever had one antibiotic for a super bad ear infection. Even when he gets a small sinus infection, we wait it out a while to see if it gets better on its own, and it has every time so far. Granted, he’s not even 3 yet, so there are many illnesses to come. We’ve found that most of his symptoms can be cleared simply with Tylenol.

BoBo1946's avatar

the bigger issue, if people take antibiotics often for reasons such as your son, their body become immune to them, and if they really get sick, they are screwed!

mollypop51797's avatar

I agree with the same arguments as all the others. I think you should probably avoid antibiotics for viral situations, like this one. What really works for kids is chicken broth. Warm broth really does the trick. I make homemade chicken soup for my kids, and what really does it is drinking it ASAP when it’s still hot. This really helps the throat, incase that’s the weakness zone for colds and whatnot, and it also help the cold too!

Rarebear's avatar

man this thread reminded me (seriously) that I forgot to take my morning antibiotic dose.

skfinkel's avatar

I am also an anti-antibiotics, unless it’s a stubborn infection. When those come, you want to be able to have antibiotics that work!

DrC's avatar

Our fascination with using antibiotics for the slightest cold (read: instant gratification and desire to have complete control over our world) is slowly resulting in increased strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. If your child does not have a high fever for a prolonged period of time, then fluids, chicken soup and maybe a little cough medicine with a decongestant is all he needs. I tend to stay away from product with pseudoephedrine because this can cause a rebound nasal congestion. I prefer diphenhydramine (which is Benadryl) for a decongestant. The downside is that it causes sedation.

janbb's avatar

@DrC The downside is that it causes sedation.

If you have a cranky kid, the upside is that it causes sedation!

drhat77's avatar

WARNING WARNING do not use cold medicines in children youger than 2 (can cause seizures) and be very cautious when using them in kids younger than 7. Also that “sedating” effect seen in cold medicines can actually cause the opposite effect in kids younger than 7 because the blood brain barrier isn’t mature

janbb's avatar

@drhat77 I know and I thought of putting a disclaimer on my humor. When my kids were little, that was not the rule, but I know it is now.

Snarp's avatar

@BoBo1946 For the record, your body does not become immune to antibiotics, they don’t act on the cells in the human body, they act directly on the bacteria causing the disease. Bacteria can evolve an immunity to the antibiotic if not all of the bacteria are successfully killed. The antibiotic will still work for any bacteria it would have worked for before.

BoBo1946's avatar

@Snarp really…first time I’ve ever heard that. Learn something everday!

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