Stop Giving Your Children Antibiotics
The 'antibiotic apocalypse' is coming: Jessica and Tim Lahey
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2013 3:56 PM CST
Even she knows she doesn't need antibiotics.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – 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.

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Mar 11, 2013 7:44 AM CDT
I guess the author of this article has never had a raging sinus infection or a frightening bout of bronchitis that only antibiotics can cure. Does this mean that people have to worry about getting antibiotics that they desperately need?I've never had a case where a dr. has prescribed antibiotics unnecessarily. In fact, I've had times where I had to waste time and money going back to the dr. to get antibiotics they should've prescribed in the first place. There are some lucky ones out there who never need antibiotics. But I am not one of those.
Mar 10, 2013 12:15 PM CDT
Another problem is when people are prescribed antibiotics for legitimate reasons they oftentimes do not take it for its full duration. As soon as they feel better they stop taking it even though they may still have several days of the medication left, this in turn also causes antibiotic resistant bacteria to emerge.
Mar 9, 2013 9:24 PM CST
It makes much less of a difference for us to stop taking them when we feed hundreds of millions of pounds of antibiotics to fatten up livestock for the slaughter. They consume over 80% of the antibiotics in the US. Legalize drugs and regulate antibiotics instead. They're the ones that might actually wipe us out in the end. Microbes have been shown to lose their resistance once the selection pressure has been removed. If we use them more infrequently, resistance should diminish. Antibiotic resistance is billions of years old. This is how microbes do battle with each other. Our industrial antibiotics are produced by microbes, and we use them against microbes. Nothing has changed except their abundance in the environment.