11-12-2010 (Dayton, OH) -
What do sinusitis, most sore throats, bronchitis, runny noses and the regular cold have in common? They are upper respiratory tract infections usually caused by viruses that cannot be cured with antibiotics. Yet, each year, health care providers in the U.S. prescribe tens of millions of antibiotics for viral infections.
To bring attention to this increasing problem, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be observing the Get Smart About Antibiotics Week November 15-21, 2010. The campaign highlights a coordinated effort between the CDC, states, non-profit partners and for-profit partners to educate the public about antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic use.
“The overuse of antibiotics is a very serious threat to everyone’s health,” explains Dr. Sherman Alter, director of infectious disease at Dayton Children’s. “When persons are given antibiotics that are not needed, when ‘stronger’ antibiotics are used instead of medications that are less broad-spectrum, when persons take medications left over from an old prescription or when one shares antibiotics – all of these contribute to the emergence of bacteria that are more difficult to treat. Taking antibiotics when one does not need them increases a person’s risk of later acquiring an infection that resists antibiotic treatment.”
“As the winter respiratory infection season begins, many parents tend to request antibiotics for their children when, in most cases, antibiotics are not needed,” says Dr. Alter. “Nearly all of these children will have viral infections where treatment with antibiotics is not warranted and will not speed up improvement in the child’s health. Antibiotics are not needed for colds and the flu.”
To stay healthy and safe, Dr. Alter and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remind you:
- Colds and flu are viruses, not bacteria.
- Taking antibiotics for viruses may cause more harm than good.
- Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else.
- The antibiotic may not be appropriate for you or your child’s illness.
- Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment and allow bacteria to multiply.
- One of the best ways to prevent sickness is to wash your hands regularly and avoid close contact with people who may be sick.
What can I do for my child if antibiotics are not appropriate?
There are several things you can do to help your child be more comfortable:
- Increase fluid intake.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Use a cool-mist vaporizer or saline nasal spray to relieve congestion.
- Soothe a throat with ice chips, sore throat spray, or lozenges. (Do not give lozenges to young children.)
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