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Antibiotic Awareness

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic medicine saves lives with proper use and kills bacteria (germs) that cause infections. But bacteria can change over time and become resistant to antibiotics, which means that antibiotics cannot kill the bacteria anymore.  Antibiotic resistance happens when a patient takes antibiotics too often or when they are not needed (e.g. antibiotics are not helpful for infections caused by viruses).

Can antibiotic resistance affect my child?

Yes. Antibiotic resistance is an urgent threat to the public’s health. Antibiotic resistance affects people at any stage of life. Infections caused by resistant bacteria are difficult—sometimes impossible—to treat. In many cases, these infections require long hospital stays and more follow-up provider visits.

What if my child is prescribed antibiotics?

Do

  • Give your child only the antibiotics prescribed
  • Give antibiotics to your child exactly as your child’s healthcare provider says
  • Ask your child’s healthcare provider questions if your child develops side effects

Don’t

  • Skip antibiotic doses
  • Share your child’s antibiotics with others
  • Save antibiotics for later use

How can I be an antibiotic champion for my child?

How your child uses antibiotics today will affect how well antibiotics work tomorrow for everyone. Everyone must work together to use antibiotics properly.

Understand why your healthcare provider is prescribing an antibiotic or choosing not to prescribe an antibiotic for your child. Ask questions and tell your healthcare provider you only want antibiotics when necessary. Antibiotics do not work on infections caused by viruses, like colds, flu, bronchitis and runny noses (even if the mucus is thick, yellow or green).

Ask these questions for your child when their healthcare provider prescribes an antibiotic:

  • What infection is the antibiotic treating, and how do you know that my child has that infection?
  • Will my child get better without an antibiotic?
  • Are you certain what type of infection it is? If not, why start antibiotics now?
  • Is the antibiotic prescribed the best to treat the infection?
  • What side effects might occur with the antibiotic?
  • How long should my child take the antibiotic?
  • Is it safe to take the antibiotic with other medications and supplements?
  • Are there special instructions for taking the antibiotic?
  • How will we know the antibiotic is working to cure the infection?
  • What should my child do if the infection is not getting any better on treatment?

What are potential harmful reactions from antibiotics?

Like all medications, antibiotics have harmful effects. Some of these can be serious.

Tell your healthcare team about your child’s known allergies.

  • Common side effects of antibiotics can include:
    • Rash
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Yeast infections
    • Diarrhea
  • Serious harmful effects include an infection called Clostridium difficile ( difficile or C. diff) and life-threatening allergic reactions.
    • C. difficile causes diarrhea that can lead to severe damage of the gut and death. Diarrhea caused by C. difficile can be serious and must be found and treated quickly. When your child is taking an antibiotic and develops diarrhea, let your healthcare team know right away.
    • The risk of getting C. difficile diarrhea lasts up to several months even after your child is done taking the antibiotic. Tell your child’s healthcare team know if they develop diarrhea even after no longer getting an antibiotic.

Questions?

This information is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call your clinic.

Reviewed 9/2020

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit www.childrensmn.org/educationmaterials.

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