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Antibiotics are one of the greatest discoveries of the previous century.
Before the discovery of antibiotics – any bacterial infection had the potential to cause death and disability. We had no weapon in the war against bacteria. But antibiotics have changed all that.
Antibiotics have saved millions of lives – but because of poor knowledge and rampant misuse – the antibiotics themselves are now in danger and need to be saved.
There was a time when a basic antibiotic like Penicillin was enough to cure a serious infection. But in recent years even ordinary bacteria have developed mechanisms to resist the attack of very high level antibiotics.
Antibiotic resistance is not someone else’s problem. It cannot be ignored or forgotten about. We cannot wait for other people to do something about it because it affects each and every one of us.
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- As more and more bacteria become resistant to antibiotics – it become more and more difficult to treat infections
- Because of increased resistance higher antibiotics have to be given for minor infections and these have many side effects – especially in children
- In many cases antibiotics may need to be injected to cure the infection. This involves the inconvenience, the danger and the expense of being admitted in the hospital.
- Most antibiotics are taken without consulting a doctor. This results in the use of antibiotics for infections that are not caused by bacteria. It also results in the wrong antibiotic being used for the wrong bacteria
- Antibiotics are used for viral fevers even after the doctor has categorically diagnosed a viral fever because parents are tired of their child being sick and want a quick solution.
- Parents discontinue antibiotics as soon as the child becomes symptom free. They are not continued for as long as the doctor prescribes.
- Antibiotics are not taken at the correct times of the day. They medicine is given whenever the parents and child remember or are in the mood – not by the clock.
- The gastritis and diarrhoea caused by some antibiotics – prompts parents to stop antibiotics much before the course is completed.
- Always start antibiotics only if the doctor prescribes them
- Understand that most childhood infections are viral infections and antibiotics kill bacteria and so are of no use in viral infections
- Different bacteria cause infections in different parts of the body – so the antibiotic that works for a throat infection will not work for a stomach infection
- Fever is only a symptom. If it is caused by a virus – an antibiotic will not help. So don’t pressurize your doctor to give antibiotics just because the fever is rising.
- Don’t discontinue the antibiotic before the course is complete. This will result in the resistant bacteria staying on in your child’s body and causing a serious infection at a later date
- Give the antibiotic on time. So if the doctor says the antibiotic has to be given twice a day give it at 12 hour intervals exactly. This will ensure that the level of antibiotic in the blood is maintained at the required level and there is no window of opportunity for the bacteria to escape the attack of the antibiotic and multiply
- Most antibiotics will cause diarrhea and gastritis because they kill the good bacteria of the gut while they are attacking the bad bacteria that cause infection. Make sure you are giving your child lots of curd and other fermented foods while your child is on antibiotics
- Do not take too many antibiotics yourself. The antibiotics you take may make the bacteria in your body resistant and these resistant bacteria may move on and infect your child resulting in a serious infection
Do not misuse antibiotics. Save antibiotics so that they can save you. And if your child has a viral infection let it run its course. Be patient – the fever is just the body’s way of building immunity.