The dangers of sharing antibiotics

Caring For Our Kids

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – An alarming number of parents admit to keeping leftover antibiotics and using them later or sharing them with other family members, according to a survey by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Doctors warn that this is a dangerous practice.

Dr. Ryan Redman, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital ER director stopped by the WATE 6 On Your Side studios to share more.

How prevalent is the problem?

The AAP study showed 92% of parents surveyed admitted that they’d had leftover antibiotics in the house, with many saying they had redistributed the antibiotics to others, including children and adults.

Why is this dangerous?

Doctors say antibiotic redistribution can promote antibiotic resistance and can expose children to dangerous dosages, potential allergens and expired drugs.

What do parents need to know?

Antibiotics don’t work for everything. Antibiotics fight bacterial infections, but don’t work against viruses. Taking too many can do more harm than good.

Doctors also say don’t expect a prescription for antibiotics every time your child is sick because it can lead to resistance… meaning the medicine won’t work the next time you need it to. Bacteria can become resistant to drugs over time, drug-resistant bacteria make it difficult to find effective medication options when you face a severe infection.

Antibiotics are not one size fits all. Different antibiotics treat different illnesses. Antibiotics for a strep infection are different from those you’d take for a urinary tract infection, for example. One won’t work well on the other. There can also be some unwanted side effects from strong antibiotics or those taken for a long period of time.

Make sure you give the medicine exactly as directed. Giving the correct dosage is important and finishing the entire course as prescribed is important. You can’t stop taking antibiotics as soon as you feel better, doing so could cause the illness to return.

If your child isn’t better after a full course of prescribed antibiotics, be sure to let your pediatrician know. Your child’s infection may be caused by germs that are resistant to the medicine and you may have to try a different antibiotic.

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