Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Educate yourself about antibiotics

Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital will join other medical centers across the nation Monday through Nov. 19 in participating in U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week, an educational effort about the appropriate and safe use of antibiotics. When used appropriately, antibiotic therapy can be lifesaving, but improper use weakens our ability to treat infections.

Here are a few numbers to know when discussing antibiotics with your child's physician:

50 percent of antibiotics are inappropriately prescribed. Bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics at alarming rates. Improper use and prescribing antibiotics when they are not needed all contribute to building that resistance. This can create a challenge for health care workers if you or your child get sick and need treatment for bacterial infections such as pneumonia, bloodstream infections and urinary tract infections.

66.8 million antibiotics were prescribed to U.S. children under 19 years old in 2013, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is enough to give an antibiotic to eight out of 10 U.S. children. When you take your child to the doctor, do not ask for an antibiotic. We cannot tell patients enough that antibiotics do not treat viruses that cause the common cold or the flu (influenza virus). Allow your physician to determine whether an antibiotic is appropriate for your child's illness. If you are prescribed an antibiotic, you should ask why, and discuss side effects and antibiotic resistance. Certain antibiotics should be used very infrequently in children, such as azithromycin, commonly known as the "Z-Pak," yet azithromycin remains the second most commonly prescribed antibiotic in children in the United States.

Antibiotic adverse events, or complications, result in 142,500 visits to the emergency center by adults and children each year, with almost 80 percent of those visits related to allergic reactions. When your child is prescribed antibiotics, observe closely to see how well he or she tolerates the treatment.

Antibiotics represent a major tool in treating illness, but like any tool, they need to be used appropriately. If they are not, the tool may not work when we really need it.

Dr. David M. Berman is a board-certified pediatric infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital.

Educate yourself about antibiotics 11/10/17 [Last modified: Friday, November 10, 2017 5:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Last Flag Flying' is kind of a puzzling follow-up to 1973's 'The Last Detail'


    Richard Linklater called 2016's Everybody Wants Some!! a "spiritual sequel" to his last-century breakout Dazed and Confused. Different characters, same youthful, life-exploring vibe.

    Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston) and Richard “Mule” Mueller (Laurence Fishburne) help Larry “Doc” Shepherd (Steve Carell) after his son dies in the Iraq war.
  2. Five ideas for easy Thanksgiving appetizers


    Thanksgiving can put a heavy burden on the host. We've assembled five appetizers that are quick and easy to prep. Some, like our risotto balls and goat-cheese figs, cater to vegetarian diets, so you can be sure to please all your guests. Even if you're not hosting the meal, bring one of these trendy appetizers to a …

    Sweet potato wedges
  3. What you need to know for Tuesday, Nov. 21


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Barricades along Beach Drive at the intersection of Fourth Avenue NE have been erected for security at upcoming holiday events at North Straub Park. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  4. Barricades reinforce security for holiday events on St. Petersburg's downtown waterfront

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG — World and national tragedies are changing the city's approach to security for special events at North Straub Park.

     Barricades along Beach Drive at the intersection of Fourth Avenue NE have been erected for security at upcoming holiday events at North Straub Park. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times

  5. A Border Patrol agent is dead in Texas, but the circumstances remain murky


    VAN HORN, Texas — Along the shoulder of Interstate 10, where drug runners sometimes hide in drainage culverts, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez came to a stop late Saturday and got out of his vehicle.

    U.S. Border Patrol agents search heavy brush for migrants after they illegally crossed the Rio Grande in Fronton, Texas, in March. [Los Angeles Times/TNS]