Before discussing why you should skip the antibiotics this monsoon, it’s important to understand the potential harm they can cause to your children. In India, the monsoons bring their fair share of illnesses, affecting even the little ones. However, reaching for antibiotics without proper guidance can have detrimental effects. From using leftover medication to self-diagnosing at the pharmacy, these practices can be harmful to your child’s health. Let’s explore the reasons why it is best to skip the antibiotics during this rainy season.
How do antibiotics work?
Antibiotics are specifically designed to target bacteria, which is why they don’t work against viral infections. However, it’s crucial to understand the importance of completing the full course of antibiotics. Many individuals may start feeling better after a couple of days and decide to stop taking the medication altogether. Unfortunately, this can lead to insufficient levels of the drug in the bloodstream, allowing bacteria to develop resistance against it. Consequently, the antibiotic becomes ineffective against the bacteria, even if taken at a later time. Understanding these factors highlights why it’s essential to skip the antibiotics in the monsoon.
Why Antibiotics are not the Answer to Everything
Unfortunately, these days people think of antibiotics as some kind of miracle drug which can treat any and all symptoms and illnesses. This blatant abuse of antibiotics has led to the development of drug resistant bacteria that are getting increasingly hard to treat.
Dr Camilla Rodrgiues of the Infection Control Committee of Hinduja hospital says, “Antibiotics, once hailed as the bedrock of modern medicine, may not work on infections in the next ten years as their indiscriminate use had spawned drug resistant bacteria.”
She couldn’t have put it better as I have experienced this phenomenon in my practice too. In most cases, common illnesses like a cold are caused by viruses and antibiotics have little or no effect on them.
This has been perfectly captured in this poster of the European Antibiotic Awareness Day:
Tips for dealing with antibiotics correctly
During my time as a consultant at a multinational company, I encountered a foreign national who had a mild infection in his foot caused by a mosquito bite. Despite experiencing swelling and pain, he adamantly refused to take antibiotics and stuck to his pain killers. Surprisingly, after a week of proper wound care, the infection subsided, and he made a complete recovery without the need for antibiotics.
In the western world, very few medications are available as over-the-counter drugs, but in India, anyone can even buy pregnancy termination drugs over the counter!! To combat this sorry situation, you can take a few steps to keep your family safe and prevent antibiotic resistance. So, why should you skip the antibiotics this monsoon? Let’s find out.
1. Do not take antibiotics as over counter medication, always consult a doctor first.
2. Complete the prescribed course (either 3 or 5 days); don’t stop in between even if you feel better.
3. Do not save antibiotics for the next illness, discard any left over medication.
4. Prevent infections by good hand health hygiene and getting the recommended vaccines.
Antibiotics aren’t evil, it’s the indiscriminate way in which we’re using them that’s causing all the problems. So next time anyone in your family falls ill, wait and see your doctor first; skip the antibiotics!