Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What's the big deal about antibiotics anyway??

Colder weather is upon us. People are spending more time indoors in close contact and we are seeing an increase in upper respiratory infections these days. I spend most of my days seeing kids with stuffy noses, sore throats and coughs.

At least once every couple of weeks I hear a conversation that goes something like this:
1. "I started with a (stuffy nose, cough, runny nose etc) yesterday and I just took some of my leftover amoxicillin. But don't worry, I only took half a pill instead of a whole one."
2. "he started with a sore throat last night and I gave him his sister's leftover augmentin since I know he had strep"
3. "every October she gets a zpack so can't you just call one in?"

You get the idea.
Everytime I hear something like this is makes my stomach turn.

I understand you are busy and don't always have time to be seen. But here is why these are bad ideas:
1. First of all you might not even need an antibiotic. You might have a virus. If you you take an antibiotic when you have a virus it won't make any difference. It won't make you better. When you take an antibiotic you don't need then you are exposing your body to medicine you don't need. You are exposing the good bacteria in your body to unescessary antibiotics which contributes to the development of resistant bacteria.

If you do need an antibiotic you may have chosen the wrong one or taken the wrong dose. So now some of your bacteria has been killed off by the antibiotic. The rest is still there and has the potential to multiply and make you sicker. Or worse, develop resistance so when you do take the right antibiotic it doesn't work.

2. So now you have started to treat your kid's sore throat with antibiotics. Now I can't do a throat culture to see if he even has strep in the first place. Of course if you choose the wrong drug or dose your kid isn't going to get better and now you may have resistant strep.

3. There is nothing magical about October that means when your kid gets sick in October they need a zpack. I get it that you're busy and don't want to come in. But there is only one way to know if your child really needs an antibiotic this October. Bring them in to be seen.

Trust me, we are not out to steal all your money or inconvenience you. We simply want to give you or your child the best care possible and that means prescribing antibiotics responsibly.

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