Home > Mom's Life > Mom's Health and Fitness > General Health > Medications > Are We Overusing Antibiotics and Antibacterial Products?
|

Are We Overusing Antibiotics and Antibacterial Products?

The problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has troubled the modern world since the advent of mass-produced penicillin around 1943. After only a few years, bacteria that were resistant to treatment with penicillin arrived on the scene. The more freely doctors used penicillin, the more prevalent the resistant bacteria seemed to become.

But it's not that antibiotics create or cause antibacterial resistance. Rather, the overuse of antibiotics favors the proliferation of the stronger microorganisms that already exist, such as antibiotic-resistant staph, TB, and pneumonia bacteria. Staph infections are mentioned frequently in the news these days. Antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria take a deadly toll on patients in hospitals and elsewhere.

Organisms with characteristics that enable them to better survive in an environment will reproduce more often and therefore become more numerous than weaker individuals of the same species. This applies to small animals like bacteria as well as to large animals like humans. So, when people use antibiotics, they create an environment that kills off bacteria that are unprotected against the antibiotics, while bacteria that are resistant remain to reproduce. Because of this basic process, the FDA reports that the use of antibiotics will inevitably lead to a world with more antibiotic-resistant organisms.

This does not mean that no one should ever be treated with antibiotics. If no one ever used antibiotics, antibiotic-resistant bacteria would be less common. However, "normal" bacteria, left untreated, can be just as dangerous to an infected child as antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In the first case, the child may become extremely sick or die if someone doesn't kill the bacteria with antibiotics, and in the second case, the child may become extremely sick or die because someone can't kill the bacteria with antibiotics.

The point is that the more sparingly we use antibiotics, and the more careful we are about using them properly, the longer we'll be able to use them. We can slow down the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria by slowing down the use of antibiotics. Many parents expect a pediatrician to prescribe antibiotics for their child whenever he gets a bad cold or the flu, but these bugs are generally caused by viruses, which antibiotics can't kill. The best thing to do is to trust your family doctor to know when antibiotics are needed. The CDC notes that studies have found that doctors often give in to patients' demands for antibiotics even when they're not necessary. Also, when your doctor does give antibiotics to you or your family, make sure you follow her instructions exactly. Skipping or delaying doses can prevent the antibiotic from working properly and killing all of the bacteria.

|


highlights

Bug Off! 6 Tick- and Mosquito-Borne Diseases
Which bug bites are dangerous? Learn about 6 diseases spread by ticks and mosquitoes, the signs and symptoms, and treatment options if someone in your family gets infected.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, brought to you by Galactic Hot Dogs.

Top 10 Backyard Party Games for All Ages
Looking for some fun outdoor games for your Fourth of July party or barbecue? Check out these awesome group games, from sack races to cornhole, to make your backyard a kid-friendly party spot!

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks