Babies and ChildrenAntibiotics in children: everything you need to know

Antibiotics in children: everything you need to know

The consumption of antibiotics in babies and children should always have been prescribed by the pediatrician, and taken under his supervision. When are they suitable and how to manage them? And what side effects do they present?

The consumption of antibiotics in children should always be prescribed by the pediatrician, since their effectiveness depends mainly on following the guidelines indicated by the specialist not only in terms of dose and quantity, but whenever there is an infection of bacterial origin.

However, especially in adults, the consumption of  antibiotics has skyrocketed in recent years, in many cases alarmingly, since it is usually very common to take them when in reality it is not necessary (because we are, for example, faced with a viral infection instead of bacterial), ignoring the importance that these must always have been prescribed by a doctor.

If they are consumed when we don’t really need them, we run the risk that, in the future, the bacteria will become more resistant to them. Themselves, so that they will end up losing their very important effectiveness, with the risks that this entails.

What are antibiotics and what are they for?

They are useful medicines or drugs in case of infections caused by bacteria, either preventing them from multiplying or directly causing their death.

Depending on the bacteria that have caused the infection, there are a wide variety of antibiotics, which have been specially studied to combat the different types of bacteria that exist at the moment. For this reason, antibiotics must always be consumed from the proper medical prescription, and always under the supervision of a specialist.

In the case of children, this is even more important, since we must remember something fundamental: antibiotics are only useful – and adequate – to fight those infections that have a bacterial origin.

This means that antibiotics are not helpful in viral infections. In fact, when the child suffers from a viral pathology (that is, caused by a virus), their immune system is able to fight the infection independently and autonomously as days go by.

The medical prescription in infant antibiotics is very important

When our son becomes ill, the most common thing is to go to the pediatrician for evaluation and analysis. If the pediatrician considers it so, especially because given the symptoms that the child suffers, he may suspect that it is a bacterial infection, he will prescribe antibiotics and indicate the doses and quantity to be administered to the child (that is, the number of times per day and in what dose).

Therefore, antibiotic treatment must always be prescribed by the doctor, being extremely important to avoid “self-medication”.

Pay special attention to symptoms

In the pediatric evaluation, the medical specialist will assess the symptoms that the child has. And what are the symptoms that may indicate that the little one is suffering from a bacterial infection?

  • Evolution of fever: When an infection is bacterial, the most common is that the fever is higher, lasts longer and can be above 38.5ºC.
  • Mucus and secretions: After the first 24 hours after the appearance of the first symptoms, it is usual for the mucus and secretions to be more greenish, yellowish or purulent.
  • Discomfort and fatigue: When the infection is bacterial, it is common for the discomfort and fatigue to be much more severe. The body hurts more, and fatigue is very common.
  • Presence of plaques:  When a process is viral, purulent production is not usual at the beginning, nor do plaques appear in the throat. However, when the infection is bacterial, purulent plaques may appear.

Sometimes, when the infection is bacterial but plaques have not yet appeared in the oral cavity, sore throat and symptoms may make it advisable to perform a pharyngeal smear, which consists of taking a small sample from the throat and will directly help to check if the infection is really bacterial.

However, before the appearance of fever, many pediatricians advise waiting a few days before starting antibiotic treatment, since it is possible that after a few days an improvement may be noticed. If this occurs, treatment is not necessary, since it will be a viral infection, as it resolves spontaneously in a few days.

How to administer the antibiotic to the baby and young child?

As we have already commented to you at some point or other throughout this note, it is very important to follow the indications given by the pediatrician, without skipping doses and always respecting the amounts.

This will help the antibiotic to be effective, since by administering it in the appropriate amounts and doses, and respecting the times of the doses, we will ensure that the medicine is always present in the blood, which makes it effective.

In addition, it is not appropriate to resort to the same treatment without first consulting the doctor even if the child has a previously treated infection. Even if the symptoms are the same, we could be wrong, and it is actually a viral infection.

What are the side effects of antibiotics on the baby or child?

As with other drugs, antibiotics also often tend to cause side effects. The most common is diarrhea, since these types of drugs tend to irritate the gastrointestinal system, in addition to negatively affecting the intestinal bacterial flora (that is, the “good” bacteria that protect our intestines from the colonization of harmful bacteria).

Tiredness is also common, as are other gastrointestinal disorders such as vomiting, poor appetite, or nausea.


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