Why this mama never gives her toddler son antibiotics (and why you should follow her example)

by Dr. Mama Kat, DPT, PT, CLT

This is not fake news. This is not click-bait. This may save you some headache, and preserve your child's health. 

Did you know that viruses cause most childhood diseases, such as chicken pox, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, Coxsasckie, influenza, the common cold, bronchitis, and viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu)? And that many of these illnesses (chicken pox, measles, mumps, rubella, influenza, polio) are preventable through vaccinations, routinely given during the first years of your child's life during well-child care visits at the pediatrician's office? Once a child develops a viral disease, a doctor cannot administer a vaccine to cure the disease. A doctor should also not prescribe antibiotics for your child, especially not for a common cold. Unfortunately, when a child sneezes, coughs, and shows up with greenish sputum/phlegm, the doctor will quickly prescribe antibiotics. This happens even when nostril and throat swabs test negative for bacteria! 

Antibiotics only kill bacteria, both the bad ones and the plethora of good (often essential) ones in your gut and bodies. Antibiotics do not harm viruses.

Bacteria, a microscopic bug 

Bacteria, a microscopic bug 

Don't fret when you see snot and mucus that isn't clear. Viral infections may cause whitish, greenish and even sandy-colored mucus. 

When your child has a cold and his/her lungs sound clear, your best strategy is to let the cold run its course. You'll probably end up sick too. (Happens to Phil and Mama every winter. Neither Phil nor I take antibiotics for our colds or bronchitis.)

For common colds, first help clear congestion without using medication 

Help clear his/her stuffy nasal passages by using saline nasal spray and a snot sucker. Run a humidifier at night. Encourage your child to cough, and avoid using medication that stops or prevents coughing. Coughing help clear excess sputum and congestion. Rub some Vicks BabyRub over his/her chest and feet. (Make sure you put socks over your child's feet afterward).

Keep your child warm and hydrated. 

Chicken soup is really good for the soul and common colds. I like to make my own chicken soup using chicken breast, ginger, onions, olive oil, salt and nutritional yeast. Boil everything together and drink that delicious, clear yellow broth!

If your child has the flu, check out this resource at Ask Dr. Sears.

Although viral diseases can cause pain, discomfort, fevers, and restlessness, they are temporary, and in typically-developing children, their immune systems will eventually fight off the viral infection. The overuse of antibiotics do more harm than good in children, especially when they aren't necessary or helpful. 

Overuse and improper use of antibiotics may lead to the development of "superbugs" in the body, and render certain antibiotics useless in future cases of bacterial diseases. This is antibiotic resistance

However, please note that these diseases require the, often immediate, use of antibiotics: 

-Strep throat
-Cellulitis
-Bacterial pneumonia
-Tuberculosis
-MRSA
-Sepsis
-Gangrene
-Bacterial eye infections
-Infected wound (topical antibiotics)

If you must give your child antibiotics, make sure to also feed them lots of yummy yogurt and/or probiotics for children! You'd want to help replenish the healthy bacteria flora in your child's gut- the good bacteria that antibiotics had killed. 

We give bacteria a bad rep, but essential and good bacteria can strengthen our immune systems and keep us from becoming overweight. (Just google something like "do antibiotics make you fat" and you'll see so many results!) American chickens are huge compared to the chickens outside of America, the ones that don't ingest antibiotics. American children and adults develop allergies to foods and other allergens that are unheard of in other countries, most often developing nations where people aren't obsessed with hand sanitizers, antibacterial soaps, and antibiotics. 

I strongly believe that we're healthier and less allergic when we eat a lot of good bacteria, found in foods like cheese, wines, kimchi, and other fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, pickles and natto beans. For those who aren't squeamish, I recommend you read this article by the New York Times regarding fecal transplants and the benefits of good bacteria.

Happy reading!

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/health-management/Pages/Well-Child-Care-A-Check-Up-for-Success.aspx

https://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/community/about/index.html