Why Doesn’t My Pediatrician Prescribe Antibiotics Every Time My Child Is Sick?

Antibiotics only work for infections caused by certain bacteria. Antibiotics do not work for infections caused by viruses.

Viruses cause all colds and flu illnesses, most coughs and most sore throats. There is no specific medication to cure illnesses caused by viruses, however your pediatrician may suggest ways you can ease the symptoms and help your child feel better while the illness runs its course.

Bacteria can cause ear infections, sinus infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and strep throat. If your pediatrician prescribes an antibiotic to treat any of these illnesses, all prescribed doses of the medication should be finished, even if your child is feeling better. If your child stops taking the medicine too soon, there is a chance the infection could restart.

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotics can kill or slow down the growth of certain bacteria, but each time they are used, there is a chance that resistant bacteria will develop. Resistant bacteria are those that are no longer killed by antibiotics. These bacteria are more likely to cause your child’s next infection and may be more difficult to treat, sometimes requiring a second or even third course of antibiotic. The misuse and repeated use of antibiotics are some of the main causes of the increase in resistant bacteria and there is a growing concern that more bacterial infections will become untreatable with commonly prescribed antibiotics.

In light of the growing antibiotic resistance, many pediatricians have become much more careful in the way they are prescribing these medications, seeing the importance of giving antibiotics only when they are absolutely necessary.

Safe Use of Antibiotics

If your child is sick, please remember:

  • Antibiotics are not always the appropriate treatment when you child is sick. Talk with your pediatrician about the best ways to treat your child.
  • Antibiotics do not work on viruses which cause colds and flu. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections.
  • Your child should finish all prescribed doses of antibiotic, even if he/she is feeling better. If stopped too soon, your child’s infection could return.
  • Any unfinished or unused antibiotics should be thrown away. Never save antibiotics for later use.
  • Do not give your child an antibiotic medication unless it was specifically prescribed for your child and their current illness – never give your child someone else’s medication (a sibling or friend) as this may be a safety risk. Always speak to your pediatrician first.

Antibiotics should be used wisely – following these guidelines will help ensure that their life-saving properties will be preserved for your child and for generations to come.

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Phone: (585) 256-2210
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Pathway Pediatrics, LLC
Westfall Medical Park
2225 South Clinton Avenue, Suite 1A
Rochester, NY 14618
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