Antibiotics: they’ve become somewhat controversial lately. Doctors say they’re overused. There are scares about MRSA (Methycillin Resistant Staphyloccocus Aureus) and other serious, antibiotic-resistant diseases. And yet, pediatricians frequently prescribe them for ear infections and other illnesses. When are they necessary? When are they not? Do Your Research! and find out.
Do Your Research!: Antibiotics
These are some questions you should ask before accepting a prescription for antibiotics.
1. Does this illness REALLY require antibiotics?
Does the illness in question (you will have to ask this question every time you are prescribed antibiotics) really require antibiotics, or will it clear on its own? If it will clear on its own, how long will that take? (Make SURE you look at independent sources on this one. Most doctors automatically prescribe antibiotics for ear infections, for example, but most will clear on their own and really don’t require it. On the other hand, other infections can be very dangerous if not treated.)
2. Without antibiotics, what are the potential complications of this illness?
Also, how likely are these complications? Can they occur even if we use the antibiotic?
3. What antibiotics are available for this illness?
How many choices do we have? What are their success rates for this type of illness? Are they tested in children/people this age? What are these antibiotics made of? (Most are mold.)
4. What are the side effects of the chosen antibiotic?
How likely are the milder side effects? How likely are the more severe side effects? What do we do if we experience them?
5. What is the infection recurrence rate with and without antibiotics?
Is infection recurrence a side effect of this antibiotic (it is in some cases, so ask!)? What are the chances of a secondary infection with and without antibiotics?
6. What are long-term side effects of antibiotic use, especially repeated use?
Will side effects last for several weeks? Are opportunistic infections likely or common with this antibiotic? Is there any way to fight these side effects after the course of antibiotics is over? Do the benefits of taking this outweigh these risks?
7. Are there other ways to treat this illness successfully besides antibiotics?
If yes, how long should we try other methods before using the antibiotic? If no, is that that serious? Can I get a second opinion if needed? (You should get a second opinion if a very long course has been prescribed or if the condition is serious.)
8. How long has this antibiotic been in use?
Is it safe? How often is it prescribed to people this age (insert your age, your child’s age, etc.)? Are there any known issues with resistant bacteria with this antibiotic?
9. How is this antibiotic to be used?
How will we know if it is working or not and what should we do if we have questions?
- Mayo Clinic
- Natural News on Homeopathy
- Tufts — APUA (prudent use of antibiotics)
- Pediatrics in Review — Using Antibiotics in Upper Respiratory Illness
- AAP on antibiotics