What are antibiotics?  Antibiotics are drugs used to fight bacterial infections.  They have no effect against viral, fungal, and most parasitic infections.

When do I use antibiotics?  Only use antibiotics when treating bacterial infections, as determined by a healthcare professional.  Use as directed by the prescribing healthcare professional.  Never start antibiotics on your own.

What may happen if I use antibiotics for all infections?  Again, antibiotics are only for bacteria.  Using them for viral, fungal, and most parasitic infections will be useless, and it will expose the patient to unnecessary side effects of the antibiotic.  Antibiotics should only be prescribed after being examined by a healthcare professional, and should not be done over the phone.  The long-term complication of constant or persistent antibiotic use is developing drug-resistant bacteria.  If this occurs and your child becomes ill with a multiple antibiotic-resistant bacteria, then the treatment options will become limited.

How can I tell if my child is allergic to an antibiotic?  Look for signs of an allergic reaction (e.g., tongue swelling, lip swelling, high pitch noise emanating from the neck (stridor), difficulty breathing, signs of poor circulation, hives, etc.).  If any of these signs are present, then stop the antibiotic and have the patient checked out by a healthcare professional.

Simple rashes developing after antibiotic use do NOT necessarily mean the patient is allergic to the antibiotic.  Many infectious agents (bacteria, virus, fungus, parasite) cause rash formation, and the rash may be due to these infectious agents and not the antibiotic.  If a rash forms after starting an antibiotic, then look for other signs of an allergic reaction (as mentioned above) for correlation.  When in doubt, stop the antibiotic and have a healthcare professional examine the rash.

Many classes of antibiotics have a cross-allergic reactivity.  Therefore mislabeling someone with an antibiotic allergy to one medication may prevent future uses in two or more classes of antibiotics, thus limiting antibiotic choices.

1-2-3 Pediatrics
3925 75th Street, Suite 105; Aurora, IL 60504
(630) 978-7337