Every year, as many as 10 million American children are at risk for side effects from prescribed antibiotics that most likely won’t help them get over an upper respiratory infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Many of these upper respiratory infections are caused by viruses, which are not helped by antibiotics.
“Our medicine cabinet is empty of antibiotics to treat some infections,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. in a press release. “If doctors prescribe antibiotics carefully and patients take them as prescribed we can preserve these lifesaving drugs and avoid entering a post-antibiotic era.”
The overuse of antibiotics, a significant factor fueling antibiotic resistance, is the focus of a new report Principles of Judicious Antibiotic Prescribing for Bacterial Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Pediatrics by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in collaboration with the CDC.
The new report was released to coincide with Get Smart About Antibiotics Week which runs from November 18 – 24.
The AAP has outlined responsible antibiotic prescribing for three common upper respiratory tract infections in children:
• Ear infections
• Sinus infections
• Sore throats
“Many people have the misconception that since antibiotics are commonly used that they are harmless,” said co-author of the report Dr. Lauri Hicks in a press release. “Taking antibiotics when you have a virus can do more harm than good.”
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria evolve and are able to outsmart antibiotics, making even common infections difficult to treat.
Each year more than two million Americans get infections that are resistant to antibiotics and 23,000 die as a result, according to a CDC report from September 2013.
AMA recommendation for clinicians: 3 Principles of Responsible Antibiotic Use
1. Determine the likelihood of a bacterial infection: Antibiotics should not be used for viral diagnoses when a concurrent bacterial infection has been reasonably excluded.
2. Weigh benefits versus harms of antibiotics: Symptom reduction and prevention of complications and secondary cases should be weighed against the risk for side effects and resistance, as well as cost.
3. Implement accurate prescribing strategies: Select an appropriate antibiotic at the appropriate dose for the shortest duration required.