Antibiotic overuse in children has become a common problem, aggravated by parental pressure for the medication, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
In 1980, 4.2 million prescriptions were written for amoxicillin, an oral antibiotic to treat ear infections.
In 1992, the number of prescriptions had grown to 12.3 million (194 percent increase). Use of another antibiotic to treat ear infections, cephalosporins, increased from 876,000 prescriptions in 1980 to 6.8 million in 1992 (a 687 percent increase).
Overuse of antibiotics is leading to strains of diseases that are becoming resistant to the medication, making it harder to treat patients. Too often, antibiotics have been prescribed for conditions such as colds, fluid in the middle ear, or bronchitis, which do not respond to antibiotics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Antibiotics are only effective in treating bacterial infections.
The key to preventing overuse of antibiotics is education of the parents and physicians in the appropriate use of antibiotics, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Some tips to remember when taking antibiotics, according to the American Medical Association (AMA), include:
- Take the antibiotics as prescribed
- Finish the full course of antibiotics, as prescribed
- Do not save or reuse antibiotics