Doctors have used antibiotics to treat bacterial infections for more than 90 years. Modern advances in medicine like complicated surgeries, cancer treatment, and transplants would not even be possible without antibiotics. However, research has found that using too many antimicrobials can be a bad thing.
Eventually bacterial infections can become hard to treat because the bacteria become resistant to different types of antibiotics. Also, antibiotics can have side effects, including some that are serious.
“Antibiotics are actually the number one cause of drug related adverse events that send patients to the emergency room,” says Logan Whitfield, chair of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program
This is why your child’s doctor should take special care when prescribing antibiotics.
Some infections do not respond to antibiotics
When prescribing an antibiotic, a doctor evaluates the likelihood that the infection is caused by a bacteria or a virus. An antibiotic will not make you feel better if you have a virus. Viral infections will usually go away in a week or two without treatment. Antibiotics are then only needed for treating certain infections caused by bacteria.
Click here for an example of common bacterial and viral infections and whether or not antibiotics are needed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It is important to remember that when antibiotics are not needed, they won’t help you, and side effects could still cause harm. Side effects to antibiotics may range from minor to very severe health problems.
What if you or your child are prescribed an antibiotic
Antibiotics should be taken exactly as prescribed to avoid failing treatment, side effects, and the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria in the body. If the infection worsens or if you develop any side effects, such as severe diarrhea, you should talk with your healthcare professional immediately.
“Patients should carefully follow the instructions with every antibiotic prescription they are given. We want to make sure the infection is completely treated,” said Whitfield.
Committed to your wellbeing
Antibiotics are powerful, lifesaving medications. Your Marshfield Clinic Health System provider is dedicated to prescribing antibiotics when they are needed, and avoiding antibiotics when they are not needed as they may do harm. Taking antibiotics only when needed helps to keep you healthy and helps to fight antibiotic resistance, and ensures that these life-saving drugs will be available for future generations.
Your healthcare provider can answer any questions about the role of antibiotics in your treatment.