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Use of Antibiotics In Children

What are antibiotics?

Antibiotics are drugs derived from microorganisms such as molds and bacteria, which kill or inhibit the growth of other microorganisms during treatment of an infection. They are effective only against bacteria and fungi, but not viruses and thus are not useful in viral infection.

What are common infections in children?

  • Ear infections – may or may not require an antibiotic
  • Sinus infections – antibiotics required only for long lasting/severe cases
  • Chest infections – antibiotics may or may not be required
  • Throat infections – antibiotics are rarely required as viruses usually cause these infections.
  • Common cold/flu – antibiotics not required.

What side effects might your child have?

  • Allergic reaction; rashes, itchiness, swelling, etc (bring your child to see the doctor immediately)
  • Stomach upset
  • Diarrhea

Important Issues

Bacteria can develop resistance towards antibiotics when antibiotics are not used appropriately. Children are among the patients who are vulnerable to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance occurs due to the inappropriate use of antibiotics, :

  • Antibiotics taken unnecessarily.
  • Insufficient antibiotics taken ( dosage is lower than required or the full course of the antibiotic is not completed.)
  • Self-medicating with old or expired antibiotics.

How can you prevent emergence of antibiotic resistance?

This can be done by:

  • Reducing the chance of getting infections,
    • Make sure your children gets enough rest & sleep
    • Give them sufficient fluids to drink
    • Give your children nutritious and balanced diet
    • Teach them to maintain personal hygiene
    • Teach them to maintain food hygiene
    • Avoid bringing your children to crowded places during disease outbreak
  • Giving antibiotics correctly as prescribed by the doctor
    • Ensure that your child receives antibiotics when clearly indicated for bacterial infection
    • Ensure that the antibiotic is administered properly; : before/after meals,etc
  • Avoid ‘doctor-hopping’, to reduce ‘over-use’ of antibiotics.

Examples of antibiotics

  • Penicillin
  • Amoxicillin
  • Cloxacillin
  • Erythromycin
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Cefuroxime
Last reviewed : 13 August 2008
Writer : Subasyini a/p Sivasupramaniam