KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A new government study says one in three antibiotics prescribed in the United States is unnecessary. Doctors say the pressure to prescribe is something they face regularly, and many parents expect a prescription for antibiotics every time they go to the pediatrician and are disappointed or even angry if they don’t’ leave with one.
Dr. Katy Stordahl with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital says antibiotics only treat bacterial infections and most of the illnesses they see are viral. She says there’s a history in the United States of prescribing antibiotics for upper respiratory infections and colds in an attempt to prevent bacterial infection, but that doesn’t actually work.
Side effects of antibiotics can include stomach upset, diarrhea and even allergic reactions, which can be life threatening if severe. Over-prescribing antibiotics can also cause bacteria to become resistant to them.
Only a doctor can determine if an infection is bacterial or viral. Even if an antibiotic is not prescribed, your pediatrician can recommend over-the-counter medications that can ease the symptoms of a viral infection.
If your child does come home from the pediatrician with an antibiotic, use it safely. Be sure to give the medication as prescribed. Even if the child is feeling better after a couple of days, be sure to continue giving it for the prescribed amount of time to be sure the infection is gone. Never save antibiotics to use later and never use another person’s prescription.