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Antibiotics And Children: Tips For Parents
By Dr.Niranjan Shendurnikar

Antibiotics have now become one of the most often prescribed drugs for children's diseases. Their use has become so common that not much thought is given to their need for use, their side effects and precautions to be observed during the treatment. These are extremely important drugs in the therapeutic armemeterium and have a definite place in the majority of childhood infections. However their indiscriminate use has to be totally avoided, as this has been a major factor in the development of resistance of germs to the antibiotics. Such organisms are likely to be more difficult to treat, thereby increasing the cost, duration and side effects of drugs used.

Tips while giving antibiotics to children

  • Do not be tempted to start the antibiotics by yourself and always consult your doctor before doing so. Unwarranted use of these drugs can mask your child's symptoms partially; delay the exact diagnosis and his/her recovery. Antibiotics need to be chosen specifically for individual germs and illnesses and your doctor is the best person to decide so.
  • Many illnesses like simple coughs, colds, mild diarrhea, skin infections tend to run a self-limiting course of about 3 to 7 days. A great majority of these do not need antibiotics. Adequate rest, fluids, balanced diet and mild painkillers are good enough for your child.
  • Stopping antibiotics before the recommended duration of treatment is counter productive in the long run, even if your child feels and looks better. By doing so, he/she may need a more potent antibiotic for a similar illness and perhaps a costlier one too.
  • Do not rely on other children's symptoms or earlier episodes to start the treatment. Childrens symptoms vary based on their age, types of germs causing illness and their own individual differences.
  • Do not be tempted to use partially used or left over suspensions or syrups of antibiotics. These tend to deteriorate on storage. Always check the label for instructions before use. If you are using suspension, shake the bottle vigorously before use so as to deliver a uniform concentration of the drug every time.
  • Dispersible kid tabs are convenient, easy to use (dissolve easily), have less chances of wastage and have minimal chance of dosing errors.
  • Avoid giving antibiotics on a full stomach or with milk or antacids. These may hamper the absorption of antibiotics from the stomach.
  • Many antibiotics (ampicillin, amoxycillin, etc.) cause mild side effects such as abdominal discomfort and occasional diarrhea. These are usually transient, subside gradually on their own and are no reason to discontinue the treatment.
  • Inform your doctor before hand if your child or family has a history of drug allergies, eruptions or asthma or G6PD deficiency. This can help your doctor greatly to plan your child's treatment appropriately.
  • Watch out for any unexpected or unusual reactions while the child's on the antibiotics. Inform your doctor immediately if the child develops severe itching, swelling of the body or dark urine.
Good compliance to the instructions with a watchful eye on the potential side effects would be important key factors to anticipate desirable results from the antibiotic usage in children.

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