The American Academy of Pediatrics is partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in supporting “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, which began yesterday and runs through the 24th of November.
Earlier this year, the two organizations conducted a study and determined that 10 million prescriptions are written yearly for infections they likely won’t alleviate — antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections, not viral infections such as the common cold and the flu.
The problem with over prescribing antibiotics is that in addition to being virtually useless in treating viral infections, they actually can cause harm by causing patients to become more susceptible to antibiotic resistant illnesses such as MRSA. The above mentioned study reveals that 2 million people contract antibiotic resistant infections each year, 23,000 of whom die — even more die from conditions made worse by the infections.
Keeping A Step Ahead
For as long as antibiotics have been in existence, bacteria have quickly adapted by mutating — researchers have managed to ahead of the game by developing stronger antibiotics. But that’s beginning to change; infections like MRSA, an antibiotic resistant form of staph infection, has inched past current research.
In response to their findings earlier this year, the CDC and AAP are urging physicians to use “stringent diagnostic criteria” in assessing whether an infection is bacterial or viral. Their report, entitled “Principles of Judicious Antibiotic Prescribing for Bacterial Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Pediatrics” zeroes in on the three most common upper respiratory infections in children: otitis media (ear infections), sinus infections and strep throat.
The report was published online November 18 and will be in the December 2013 issue of Pediatrics, just in time for the upcoming cold and flu season — although the cold and the flu are both viral infections, complications from each can lead to secondary bacterial infections such as sinus infections, bronchitis, ear infections and bacterial pneumonia.