Overuse Of Medicines
We are a greatly over-medicated society, both with prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Some people believe that every symptom needs a drug. Most physicians would disagree.
- First: Let's set the record straight about antibiotics. Antibiotics only kill bacteria. They have no effect on viruses. Antibiotics can neither reduce symptoms nor shorten the course of viral illnesses. Since more than 90% of infections are due to viruses, (including almost all coughs, colds, and diarrhea), antibiotics aren't helpful for them.
- Second: What about over-the-counter medicines for viral infections? If your child is playing and sleeping normally, non-prescription medicines are not needed. Give these medicines only when symptoms are disrupting sleep or really bothering your child (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen for a bad sore throat or a fever over 102 degrees). Even if these medicines make your child feel better, keep in mind that they can't shorten the course of an illness.
- Third: Over-the-counter cough and cold medicines are the most overused products. In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration recommended that parents not give them to children under 6 years of age because they are not effective. More importantly, they should never be used under 4 years of age, because they can cause serious side effects.
In summary, don't feel badly if you're not giving your sick child a medicine. Drugs are not essential for recovering from most illnesses.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 11/1/2008
Last Revised: 11/08/2008 2:42:10 PM
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.