Antibiotic Safety for the Family

antibiotic awareness

Antibiotic Safety for the Family

We’ve all heard of antibiotics…we’ve all probably been written prescriptions for them many times over our lifetime, but do we know how to use them properly? Do we know how to use them safely?  Do we know enough about antibiotic resistance? Hopefully, your answer to these questions will be “yes” after reading this article.

Antibiotics are generally very safe and helpful in fighting infections caused by bacteria.  According to healthychildren.org, here are some important guidelines to follow when you are taking an antibiotic:

*Make sure that you give the medicine exactly as directed.  That means taking the recommended dose according to the schedule on the label.

*Make sure that you take or give your child then entire course of antibiotics.  Many parents/caregivers think that once they or their child start feeling better, they can stop giving/taking the medicine.  If you don’t take the full course, some of the microbes may stay in the body and continue to multiply.  This may cause another infection or mutate to a new form that could be resistant to future treatment.

*Never give or take antibiotics that were prescribed for another person or for an earlier illness, including those that you may have in your medicine cabinet.

*Some common side effects of antibiotics are nausea, stomach pains and diarrhea.  This reaction can lead to dehydration so be sure to notify your doctor if you experience any of these side effects.

*Watch carefully for allergic reactions when taking antibiotics.  Evidence of this may be a rash, itching or in extremely severe cases difficulty breathing.  Make sure that your doctor is aware of any drug allergies that you have had in the past.

*Antibiotic resistance may result when the drugs are used too often or used improperly for viral infections.  In these cases, the antibiotic is not able to kill the germs causing the infection and in turn, the infection may last longer and possibly get worse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths occur each year in the United States due to antibiotic-resistant infections.  There are several ways to help protect both you and your family from antibiotic-resistant infections.  The CDC suggests that cleaning your hands is like a “do-it-yourself” vaccine when done before and after certain activities.  This is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others.  Staying up to date with vaccines can protect both the people who receive them and those with whom they come in contact.  And finally, take the time to learn how to stay safe when hospitalized and when travelling.

The CDC website (www.cdc.gove) is an excellent resource to learn about all of these topics and more.