This is a post prepared under a contract funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and written on behalf of the Mom It Forward Influencer Network for use in CDC’s Be Antibiotics Aware educational effort. Opinions on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CDC.
This little guy is my son Nathaniel. He is my everything. If my son ever has a serious illness and needs to receive antibiotics, it is critical that those antibiotics are effective. He is why I am so passionate about antibiotic awareness and understanding antibiotic resistance.
What is antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotics save lives, but unfortunately, some antibiotics are becoming ineffective for some people. It happens because of antibiotic resistance—which occurs when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people get infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. At least 23,000 people die as a result. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health.
I don’t know about you, but those statistics terrify me. If things do not change, antibiotic resistance will only get worse. I fear for my son’s generation and those that follow. The first step in combating antibiotic resistance is antibiotic awareness.
Raising antibiotic awareness
To this end, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched the Be Antibiotics Aware initiative to help raise antibiotic awareness.
While many antibiotics are life-saving, 47 million prescriptions are prescribed unnecessarily in the United States alone. With antibiotics being prescribed unnecessarily, it is critical that we come together and improve the way we take antibiotics. Antibiotics need to be reserved for only the instances when they are truly necessary. For example, antibiotics are critical for treating people with serious infections, such as pneumonia or sepsis, the body’s extreme response to an infection.
Antibiotics aren’t always the answer
Antibiotics do not work on viruses that cause colds and flu, bronchitis, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow, or green. An antibiotic will not make you feel better if you have a virus. Respiratory viruses usually go away in a week or two without treatment. Ask your healthcare professional about the best way to feel better while your body fights off the virus.
Antibiotics are only needed for treating certain infections caused by bacteria, but even some bacterial infections get better without antibiotics, including many sinus infections and some ear infections.
When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help you, and the side effects could still hurt you. Side effects range from minor to very severe health problems, such as a rash or a C. difficile (C. diff) infection, which needs to be treated. When you need antibiotics for an infection, the benefits of the drug usually outweigh the risk of side effects.
When kids gets sick
Even though we follow CDC’s immunization schedule to help protect us against illnesses such as the flu, from time to time we all come down with something regardless.
As parents, seeing our children sick is awful, and we obviously want to do whatever we can to help them to feel better. However, it is important to remember what antibiotics do and don’t treat.
If my son comes down with a cold or other respiratory infection, I use several methods to help relieve some of his symptoms while his body fights off the virus.
Ways to help babies and children feel better:
- Make sure they get lots of rest.
- Offer them plenty of fluids.
- Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer.
- Avoid smoking, secondhand smoke, and other pollutants.
- Give them acetaminophen or ibuprofen (as directed by their pediatrician).
- Give them saline nasal spray or drops.
A combination of these methods and lots of snuggle time with you will help them be as comfortable as possible while a viral illness runs its course.
Remember, antibiotics save lives
Improving the way that we take antibiotics helps keep us healthy now, helps fight antibiotic resistance, and ensures that life-saving antibiotics will be available for future generations.
To learn more about antibiotic prescribing and use, visit www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use.
To learn more about sepsis, a life-threatening condition that is treated with antibiotics, visit www.cdc.gov/sepsis.