Antibiotics save lives, but they also have the ability to put lives in jeopardy. How can something so miraculous also be so dangerous? While antibiotics definitely have an important role to play in medical care, it’s important to understand their implications and dangers, especially for your vulnerable children.
What Are Antibiotics?
An antibiotic is a medication meant to slow down and destroy the growth of bacteria in the body. A great deal of bacteria in the body is healthy and vitally necessary to survival, but the specific strains of bacteria targeted by antibiotics are known to cause infections like meningitis, salmonella, sinusitis, and many more. When used correctly, antibiotics defend against bacteria and give the body’s natural defense mechanisms a chance to finish the healing process.
Are Too Many Antibiotics Bad?
There is no denying that antibiotics like penicillin have saved countless lives by treating bacterial infections and preventing the spread of disease. However, too much of a good thing always results in negative consequences. There are now a number of standard antibiotic treatments that are no longer responsive in the body. This is known as antibiotic resistance and it is caused by overuse and misuse of antibiotics as a tool to fight illness.
Why Does Antibiotic Resistance Occur?
Antibiotic resistance can be understood in a sequence of four steps. First, a sick body contains many germs, only a few of which are already antibiotic resistant. The antibiotic enters the body and kills most of the bacteria causing an illness, including the healthy bacteria that protects the body. With most of the good and bad bacteria gone from the body, those few antibiotic resistant bacteria are now able to take over and multiply. They can then even spread their drug resistance to other bacteria, which makes the problem worse.
Using Antibiotics Wisely
The first key to preventing antibiotic resistance is simply to minimize the use of antibiotics to ensure they are only used when necessary and appropriate. Conditions like the cold, flu, bronchitis, stomach flu, and some ear and sinus infections will not improve with the use of antibiotics, so taking antibiotics for any of those reasons would only kill the body’s stores of healthy, productive bacteria. Antibiotics should only be used for specific conditions as prescribed by a doctor.
To learn more about antibiotics and other important medical treatments for your children, call (727) 525-2161 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Stephen Nelson in St. Petersburg, Florida.