While antibiotics can give respite from many diseases, there is a tendency to overdo it. This article enlightens you about the overuse of antibiotics.
By Dr Madhu Purushothaman
When Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928, it marked a new beginning in the history of healthcare. The world welcomed antibiotics and said goodbye to many infectious diseases. With time, antibiotics have become a way of life. In recent times though, the theory of overdoing antibiotics has come into play. Are you guilty of it too?
Does even the slightest sniffle or sneeze from your child leave you scrambling for that old prescription or antibiotics? Stop! Because, for all you know, you might be causing more damage than good to your child’s health. As a parent, it is important for you to know how to use antibiotics judiciously. Here are some tips to help you:
To know what’s bad about taking antibiotics, it’s important to know how antibiotics really work. There is a general belief that antibiotics can treat any infection. This is absolutely wrong. Antibiotics can only counter infections caused by bacteria. The common cold, for example, is not one of them, as it is a viral infection. So taking antibiotics for a cold is of no use at all.
Parents should also be aware that excessive use of antibiotics will cause bacteria to develop resistance, and your child will not respond to these medications. This is because, over a period of time, the bacteria tend to build up a defence mechanism against the antibiotics. Hence, there is a chance that antibiotics may not work when your child really needs them. Therefore, you should avoid overuse and/or inappropriate use of antibiotics.
In addition to bacterial resistance, antibiotics are also known to cause unpleasant side-effects in approximately one in ten people. These
side-effects last for the length of the course of
the medication and immediately subside once medication is stopped. The symptoms of these side-effects are:
Apart from these side-effects, antibiotics are also known to trigger allergic reactions in approximately one in fifteen people. The symptoms of these allergies include itching, rashes and cough, followed by wheezing and tightness of throat. Although these allergic reactions can be easily treated, it would be wise to prevent them altogether by limiting the use of antibiotics.
First and foremost, you should understand that antibiotics are not over-the-counter medicines. It is an offence to procure them without a doctor’s prescription. There are a few rules that parents should follow religiously when it comes to antibiotics:
Overuse of antibiotics is a widespread practice among modern-day parents, who usually want them prescribed at the drop of a hat. This should be avoided. Antibiotics should only be given after proper medical diagnosis.
So, the next time your tiny tot sneezes or catches an infection, do not raid your medicine cabinet or reach for that old strip of antibiotics! There are other ways to get back on track.
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