“My 4-year-old son has had a fever for three days now, along with typical cold symptoms. Should I take him to the doctor to get some antibiotics?”
This question would have to be one of the most often asked in the pharmacy. The answer to the question is yes! Yes, you should go to the doctor , but not in order to get a prescription for antibiotics (make sure you don’t bully them…)
Why is this the case? When our children suffer with a fever, sore throat, sore ears and coughing, viruses cause about 90% of these symptoms whereas bacteria are the cause to only 10% of these symptoms. As we know antibiotics only work against bacterial infections. Antibiotics do not fight infections caused by viruses like colds, flu, most sore throats, bronchitis, and many sinus and ear infections.
How do we know whether we are suffering from a bacterial infection or a viral infection? The truth of the matter is, it is very difficult, and often the symptoms overlap. Usually symptoms of a bacterial infection are often more severe than a viral infection, however there are some nasty viruses that can cause equally severe symptoms and can last a long time. So really the only way to tell the difference is to see you local doctor and allow them to perform the various diagnostic tests that enable them to determine what is the cause. Your doctor will often listen to your child’s chest for rattles and signs of pneumonia. They may do a swab of the throat to determine if there is a bacterial infection, or they may require a urine sample if contemplating a urinary tract infection. If your doctor doesn’t think antibiotics are required it doesn’t mean they do not think your child isn’t sick, they are suspecting it to be a viral infection and will recommend symptomatic treatment. Your doctor will also explain if the symptoms do not subside by a certain time to return to monitor your child as sometimes a secondary bacterial infection can manifest.
What happens if our children take antibiotics when they are not necessary? There are no obvious signs and symptoms however if we take a closer look when antibiotics enter our system, they disrupt our ecosystem that line our whole body. Our intestinal flora is made up of trillions of organisms that help us digest food, help produce certain vitamins and help our immune system function optimally. When it gets erased by antibiotics ,there are always some bacteria that can survive and change slightly to resist the antibiotics and then the bacteria can be transmitted to others with poor hygiene so that when antibiotics are really necessary it can be a problem if you have resistant bacteria. It can take longer to treat and become a serious problem.
So when your doctor says there is no need for antibiotics, do trust them. There is obviously a place for antibiotics but always remember to take the course of antibiotics as prescribed exactly by your doctor and complete the course to completely treat the infection. It’s a good idea and in many countries in Europe you will often see a prescription for antibiotics together with a probiotic. Probiotics are very important after a course of antibiotics to replenish the good bacteria and inhibit any overgrowth of bad bacteria.
Please feel free to leave comments on this blog and if there are any questions I am more than happy to answer them. Also, if you tried a remedy that worked well for your children that was, or wasn’t mentioned above, let me know. I hope this information does help.
Disclaimer – The material on this blog is only to be used for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a healthcare practitioner, before applying the methods, medicines, techniques or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein. The names of people mentioned in this blog have been changed to protect the real patient’s confidentiality.
Antibiotics and Children – When are they appropriate?