Are Antibiotics Safe for Children?

November 27, 2020
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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At some point in most people’s lives, there comes a time when a doctor prescribes antibiotics. In those instances, it’s just a matter of following the physician’s instructions, remembering to take them at the specified times, and finishing the entire prescription — even when you start to feel better. But when it comes to children, it’s understandable to be more apprehensive. After all, they may have sensitivities adults don’t have to worry about. So, is it safe for children to take antibiotics? What are the side effects? And are there any instances when they should bypass them completely?

What are antibiotics?

Antibiotics are prescription medications used to treat infections. They work by preventing bacteria that has entered your system from reproducing and spreading. The most common conditions they treat include:

  • Ear infections
  • Sinus infections
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Dental infections
  • Skin infections
  • Meningitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis
  • Strep throat
  • Whooping cough
  • Bladder, kidney, or urinary tract infections
  • Pharyngitis
  • Acne

Since antibiotics are designed to treat infections caused by bacteria, they won’t work on health ailments caused by viruses, such as the common cold, a sore throat, or the flu. If you are experiencing any of these latter conditions, a doctor would either recommend waiting it out while hydrating and resting, or prescribe antiviral medications.

Side Effects of Antibiotics

While antibiotics provide effective treatment to target bacteria, the body also includes harmless bacteria — which can be affected by the medications. This is especially the case with bacteria located in the digestive tract. Therefore, common side effects of taking antibiotics include:

  • Bloating
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite

It’s crucial to only take antibiotics when necessary, since overuse can lead to antibacterial resistance. As a result, the bacteria that enters the body could evolve into what’s commonly known as super bacteria, which are dangerous, since they won’t respond to medication.

Are antibiotics safe for children?

Antibiotics could be safe for children, but it depends on the child’s specific circumstances. For the most part, pediatricians will avoid prescribing antibiotics to babies and infants — opting instead to place the child under observation and provide alternative forms of treatment, such as over-the-counter pain relievers. However, if the child is suffering from certain ailments, they will likely require antibiotic treatment. These include:

  • High fever
  • Pneumonia
  • Severe ear pain
  • Bacterial sinusitis
  • Impetigo

It may take several days for the antibiotics to have an effect on children. If such is the case with your child, talk with their pediatrician while continuing to give them their prescribed dosage. Make sure to give them the full prescribed amount and pay close attention to whether they need to have a meal prior to taking the medication.

In the case of ear infections — which are common in children — they typically improve within two or three days. Therefore, it’s safer to treat them with over-the-counter medications. If symptoms don’t improve, the pediatrician may then prescribe either antibiotic ear drops or oral antibiotics.

That being said, the majority of childhood illnesses are caused by viruses. Therefore, they won’t need antibiotics to treat them in the first place.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care in Florida

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of skilled professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help.

Our home health care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care Services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.