How to Talk With Your Child’s Pediatrician about Antibiotics
Fever. Fussiness. Tugging at the ears. Many parents can easily ID the telltale signs
that their child has an ear infection. All you have to do is call the pediatrician
for an antibiotic, and your kid will soon be on the road to recovery, right? Not exactly.
Often, illnesses such as bronchitis, sinus infections, and ear infections get better
without treatment. However, research shows that many parents are hesitant to wait
to give an antibiotic. Communicating openly with your health care provider about antibiotics
can help you better understand when they’re necessary and when they’re not. Here are
three important questions that can help guide your conversation.
1. Why Should I Wait to Give an Antibiotic?
Many infections improve on their own. Waiting two to three days after your doctor
diagnoses an infection gives you time to see if this will happen. If it gets better,
you’ll avoid giving your child unnecessary antibiotics. This is a good thing. While
antibiotics can be helpful when they’re needed, there are major risks to taking them.
2. What Can I Do In The Meantime to Help My Child Feel Better?
Your child may not need an antibiotic, but there are still things you can do to help
your child feel better. For example, ask your doctor which over-the-counter pain reliever
may work best. Find out what dose to give your child and how often you should administer
it. If your child has an ear infection, holding a warm, damp cloth over the painful
ear may help. If your child has bronchitis, using a humidifier or breathing in steam
from a hot shower may offer some relief.
3. How Will I Know If My Child Needs an Antibiotic?
If, after two to three days, your child’s symptoms don’t improve or they get worse,
then an antibiotic may be necessary. Ask your doctor exactly what to watch for and
how to know when to call.