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.
When I became a mother my life changed instantly. I suddenly had an unquenchable desire for my child to be healthy, happy and safe. When my kids are sick I want them to be well as quickly as possible and I know other parents feel the exact same way. Unfortunately, antibiotics aren't always the answer. It is so important to educate ourselves and be antibiotics aware!
Antibiotics Aren't Always the Answer
We truly live in a society where we want everything NOW…or yesterday, LOL. This goes for our health, too. What can we do to fix a health issue the quickest way possible with no real regard for the consequences that quick fix may have? Sometimes we want a quick fix that won't even work.
Antibiotics Do Not Work on Viruses
The scientific fact of the matter is: antibiotics do not work on viruses like the ones that cause colds and flu, bronchitis, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow or green. This is the plain and simple truth. Nevertheless, many people go to the doctor for colds, flu and other viruses and hope they are prescribed an antibiotic. I think it makes us feel like we are doing something important to get well if we take an antibiotic.
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. When you need antibiotics for an infection, then the benefits of the drug usually outweigh the risk of side effects.
Antibiotics Won't Make You Feel Better if You Have a Virus
I have had some really ugly viruses before. There have been visits to the doctor where I was really hoping for something to help me get better quicker. Luckily, my doctor understands when an antibiotic is needed.
The same has been true when my children are sick. Most of the time they just have a virus. I wish I could snap my fingers and make it go away, but I can't. Parents need to understand that by trying to get antibiotics prescribed for a virus, the side effects could hurt their child.
Some of the most miserable illnesses I have had have been respiratory viruses. Fortunately, 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. When you’ve got a virus, there is nothing an antibiotic can do to make me or anyone else feel better. My doctor always has good suggestions of ways I can feel better while my body is fighting off the virus.
Antibiotic Resistance is an URGENT Threat to Our Health
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. When bacteria become resistant, antibiotics can't fight them and the bacteria multiply.
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. These numbers are scary!! Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to the public's health.
I am so glad the CDC has launched the Be Antibiotics Aware educational effort to help families and healthcare professionals understand how serious this issue really is.
Antibiotics Save Lives
Antibiotics are critical tools for treating people with serious infections, such as pneumonia, and for life-threatening conditions like sepsis, the body's extreme response to an infection. If you need antibiotics, it is important to take them exactly as the doctor prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about your antibiotics, or if you develop any side effects, especially diarrhea, since that could be a C. diff infection.
Improving the way 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.