Protecting your child's long-term health may mean not getting a prescription for antibiotics—even in cases of ear and sinus infections, write Jessica and Tim Lahey at The Atlantic. The authors were surprised that their "smart, highly educated" friends turn easily to antibiotics for their children. Only problem: Human bacteria is becoming so antibiotics-resistant that a prescription may well be useless in a few years, and "people [will] die from what are currently nuisance illnesses easily cured with a pill." So the Taheys offer a few tips to avoid the "antibiotic apocalypse":
- Antibiotics destroy bacteria, not viruses, so antibiotics do bupkis for colds and bronchitis.
- Green phlegm and sinus discharge don't necessarily require antibiotics. Many studies have concluded that green sputum may well be viral rather than bacterial.
- Even ear and sinus infections may not need antibiotics, provided there are no "red flag symptoms." Consult with your doctor to make sure.
- Always get a chest X-ray to make sure your child has bronchitis rather than pneumonia. The physical examination and symptoms can be the same, but bronchitis is often viral while pneumonia is bacterial.
Click for the Laheys' full article.