Antibiotic Resistance in Kids- Causes, Types and Prevention

Antibiotic resistance in kids
Antibiotic resistance in kids

Kids health” is one of the most concerning aspects of parenthood. We always want them healthy and happy. But childhood aliments still remain a fact of life. They range from a common cough, cold to more severe aliments such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Sometimes, for parents (especially, first-time parent) it is difficult to determine the severity of an infection.

Seema is one of them. Her 2-year daughter frequently suffers from an ear infection and (actually it is an earache only…she does not know is it a sign of infection or not) doctor prescribed antibiotic each time for treating it. She is confused that her daughter actually needs antibiotic prescription each time? She is afraid that her daughter may develop “Antibiotic resistance” (a condition when bacteria change in a way that reduces the effectiveness of antibiotics to treat or prevent the infection, bacteria continue to survive and multiply, in spite of antibiotic treatment) Does she need to take a help of “Alternative therapy” for treatment?

It is not only with Seema but with the majority of the parents had a doubt and question regarding the proper use of the antibiotic. How antibiotic works? Why is it important that antibiotics are not overused? How can we prevent “Antibiotic resistance” in kids?

Being a physician and mom of two young kids “Antibiotic resistance” also scares me a lot. Here I am sharing a bit of information regarding this latest global health threat. Hoping it will help other.

As we all know, antibiotics are the greatest advance in medicine. They may either kill or inhibits the growth of bacteria. They used in the treatment and prevention of bacterial infection. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, such as common cold and influenza.

There are mainly two types of germs, which make kids sick:  bacteria and virus

Bacterial infections: most bacteria wouldn’t cause any harm. Even some good bacteria help in food digestion process. For example, Lactobacillus lives in the small intestine and promotes an easy digestion. But some bacteria are harmful and can cause severe illness by disturbing the normal body functions. Tuberculosis, pneumonia and meningitis are few illnesses that may be caused by harmful bacteria. Antibiotics are effective against bacterial infections.

Viral infections– viral infections are caused by viruses. Viruses are not alive organisms, they reproduce only after they have invaded the cell of the living organism. Usually, viral infections are self-limiting and do not require any specific treatment. The immune system can fight effectively with viral infections. Antibiotics do not work against viruses.

What are the main causes of “Antibiotic resistance”?

There are major two causes of developing “Antibiotic resistance”

Overusing antibiotics- taking antibiotics for viral or other illnesses is the major mistake that creates bacteria that are harder to kill. Frequent and inappropriate use of antibiotics can cause bacteria to develop a resistance against them. And treating these resistant bacteria requires higher doses or stronger antibiotics. In addition to antibiotic resistance, overusing antibiotics may cause serious side effects in kids such as diarrhoea, skin rashes and acidity. Sometimes, antibiotics may kill many different bacteria that help to keep the body healthy.

Misuse of antibiotic– misusing antibiotic is the second main cause of antibiotic resistance. Using leftover antibiotics, skipping the recommended dose, do not complete the full course of the drug; take antibiotics prescribed for someone else are some of the common mistakes that may cause antibiotic resistance in the kid.

What can we do as a parent?

Of course, parents can play a vital role to prevent the “Antibiotic resistance”. Here I am sharing some easy to adopt steps that can prevent “Antibiotic resistance” in kids.

Be Patient and calm

The first and most important step, being a parent try to “Be calm and patient” when your child is suffering from common childhood aliments.  Do not react impulsively while your child has a minor illness. Usually, when we bring our child to the doctor for these common childhood aliments (common cold, cough, and fever) we automatically expect a prescription that makes the fastest cure for our kids. This parental anxiety is the main cause of overuse of antibiotic. Sometimes, physician prescribed antibiotics just to satisfy the parents.

Be careful and do a “watchful waiting

It is better to let common childhood illnesses especially those thought to be caused by viruses complete their course. But be careful and monitor your child’s symptoms carefully. It is a good idea to understand the common course, symptoms, precautions and especially the “warning signs” of the routine illnesses.

For example, in the case of the common cold:

  • Running or stuffy nose
  • Mild fever
  • Aversion to eating
  • Lethargy

These are common symptoms and tend to recover within a few days. But if a child has

  • Difficult breathing
  • High-grade fever
  • Discolouration of any body part
  • Pain in chest

These all should be considered as a “warning signs“, require an immediate medical attention. If you are not sure regarding the progression of symptoms, it is best to take a professional medical consultation for avoiding inconvenience.

Develop a good relationship and an open communication with your doctor

This is the most effective way to prevent the “Antibiotic resistance” in kids. Make a good relationship and an open communication with your doctor helps you to understand your child’s problem more effectively. Ask him whether the illness is bacterial or viral? Discuss the other simpler way to control the annoying symptoms of common illness? And most importantly understand the “when to consult a doctor or prominent signs of infection” these communications help you to feel confident and you would be able to avoid the unnecessary medication for common childhood diseases.

Adopt the simplest way to prevent infections

This is also the greatest way to prevent the “antibiotic resistance” to “prevent the infection” by developing good habits in kids. Encourage them for’

  • Proper handwashing after coming from outside
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetable
  • Regular exercise

Apart from that complete vaccination according to plan schedule helps in prevention of infection. Centre for disease control and prevention offered complete guidelines for preventing antibiotic resistance.

Use alternative therapy for repeated infections

In spite of all preventive measures if your child suffers from repeated infections or a common cough, cold or ear pain and you did not wish to use antibiotics as a treatment option. Then alternative therapy can be a good option to build a resistance power in kids. Homeopathy is one of them. Being a homeopath, I had always observed the miraculous results of homeopathy in common childhood problem. The best part is that it increases immunity power, free from side effects and easy to adopt treatment option. You may use some common homeopathic medicines for treating routine illnesses. But for repeated infection, it is best to take a professional consultation.

So, try to adopt these easy steps for treating common childhood problems, it will help to prevent “Antibiotic resistance” up to a certain extent. Did you have any experience with the overuse of antibiotics or did you have tried any other strategies to prevent the “Antibiotic resistance”? Please share with us. Until then eat healthy and live well!

Disclaimer- the article is for informational purpose only, not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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