This time of year is keeping the office busy with many sick visits for a variety of reasons. One of the diagnoses we see most commonly is a viral upper respiratory infection – commonly called a “cold,” “bug,” “URI,” or many other names. More than a few times in the last few weeks we have also heard “I had some left over antibiotics from a previous treatment and gave him a dose.”
This is a bad idea, for a few reasons:
- Why did you have left overs in the first place? If you or your child is prescribed 10 days of medication, we really do mean for you to take all ten days. Not completing the medication is putting you at risk for the infection returning or getting even worse. Sometimes, when mixing liquid medications at the pharmacy, there will be left over liquid in the bottle, but the instructions will tell you to throw out the rest of the medicine after finishing the 10 days.
- Antibiotics only treat BACTERIAL infections – think strep throat or pneumonia. Many of the illnesses that children contract are caused by viruses and will not get better with an antibiotic.
- Old medications of any kind are risky, as they all have expiration dates. Liquid medicines, in particular, are very susceptible to going bad and are usually only good for about 2 weeks.
- Taking a dose of medicine can actually mess up the results of some testing. If you give your child a dose of amoxicillin, then bring them to the office 2-3 days later for a strep test, we cannot reliably tell you if they have strep throat.
- The use of antibiotics when they are not needed leads to things like bacterial resistance – which means that we have to use a stronger medicine in the future.
Not sure what to do to treat your child? That’s why we’re here! Call your primary office and schedule a sick visit. Even if the symptoms are caused by a virus, we can offer suggestions of other treatments and medications to help with symptoms.