Tag Archives: Get Smart

Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work + How To Feel Better

HOW TO FEEL BETTER:

What can I do to feel better if antibiotics won’t treat my illness because it’s caused by a virus?

For upper respiratory infections, such as sore throats, ear infections, sinus infections, colds, and bronchitis, try the following:

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer
  • Avoid smoking, second-hand smoke, and other pollutants (airborne chemicals or irritants)
  • Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain or fever 

For children and adults, over-the-counter pain relievers, decongestants and saline nasal sprays may help relieve some symptoms. Remember, always use over-the-counter products as directed. Many over-the-counter products are not recommended for children younger than certain ages.

Over-the-counter medicines may help relieve symptoms such as runny nose, congestion, fever and aches, but they do not shorten the length of time you or your child is sick.

Learn more by reading below about over-the-counter medicines. Here are some helpful tips for how to feel better depending on how you or your child feels.

Sore Throat

  • Soothe a sore throat with ice chips, sore throat spray, or lozenges (do not give lozenges to young children)
  • Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer
  • Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain or fever 

Ear Pain

  • Put a warm moist cloth over the ear that hurts
  • Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain or fever 

Runny Nose

  • Use a decongestant or saline nasal spray to help relieve nasal symptoms 

Sinus Pain/Pressure

  • Put a warm compress over the nose and forehead to help relieve sinus pressure
  • Use a decongestant or saline nasal spray
  • Breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water or shower
  • Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain or fever 

Cough

  • Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer or breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water or shower

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medicines

For children and adults, over-the-counter pain relievers, decongestants and saline nasal sprays may help relieve some symptoms. Remember, always use over-the-counter products as directed. Not all products are recommended for children younger than certain ages. Overuse and misuse of OTC cough and cold medicines in young children can result in serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.

These medicines may help relieve symptoms such as runny nose, congestion, fever and aches, but they do not shorten the length of time you or your child is sick.

Questions and Answers for Parents about Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medicines

For adults, over-the-counter pain relievers, decongestants and saline nasal sprays may help relieve some symptoms. Remember, always use over-the-counter products as directed.

For children, over-the-counter pain relievers, decongestants and saline nasal sprays may help relieve some symptoms. Not all products are recommended for children of certain ages.

These medicines may help relieve symptoms such as runny nose, congestion, fever and aches, but they do not shorten the length of time you or your child is sick.

Q: What pain relievers can I give my child?

A: For babies 6 months of age or younger, parents should only give acetaminophen for pain relief. For a child 6 months of age or older, either acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be given for pain relief. Be sure to ask your child’s healthcare provider for the right dosage for your child’s age and size. Do not give aspirin to your child because of Reye’s syndrome, a rare but very serious illness that harms the liver and brain. 

Q: Should parents give cough and cold medicines to young children?

A: The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), a group that represents most of the makers of nonprescription over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines, recommends that these products not be used in children under 4 years of age. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) supports this recommendation. Overuse and misuse of OTC cough and cold medicines in young children can result in serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.

Q: What can parents do to help their children feel better if they are too young to take cough and cold medicines or the healthcare provider advises against using them?

A: Parents might consider clearing nasal congestion in infants with a rubber suction bulb. Also, a stuffy nose can be relieved with saline nose drops or a clean humidified or cool-mist vaporizer.

Q: Should parents give cough and cold medicines to children over 4 years of age?

A: Cough and cold symptoms usually go away without treatment after a certain amount of time. Over-the-counter cough and cold medicines will not cure the common cold, but may give some temporary relief of symptoms. Parents should consult their child’s healthcare provider if they have any concerns or questions about giving their child a medication. Parents should always tell their child’s healthcare provider about all prescription and over-the-counter medicines they are giving their child.

Q: What should parents and doctors be careful of if they want to give cough and cold medicines to children over 4 years of age?

A: Always keep medications in original bottles or containers, with the cap secure, and up and away from children. Children getting into and taking medications without adult supervision can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening effects. Avoid giving more than one cough and cold medicine at a time to children. Two medicines may have different brand names but may contain the same ingredient. Some cough and cold medicines contain more than one active ingredient. Also, follow directions carefully to avoid giving too much medication; the right amount of medication often depends on your child’s age and weight.

(Furnished by the CDC)

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Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work – CDC Campaign Q&A

Q & A

What are bacteria and viruses?

Bacteria are single-celled organisms usually found all over the inside and outside of our bodies, except in the blood and spinal fluid. Many bacteria are not harmful. In fact, some are actually beneficial. However, disease-causing bacteria trigger illnesses, such as strep throat and some ear infections. Viruses are even smaller than bacteria. A virus cannot survive outside the body’s cells. It causes illnesses by invading healthy cells and reproducing.

What kinds of infections are caused by viruses and should not be treated with antibiotics?

Viral infections that should not be treated with antibiotics include:

  • Colds
  • Flu
  • Most coughs and bronchitis
  • Sore throats (except for those resulting from strep throat)
  • Some ear infection

What is an antibiotic?

Antibiotics, also known as antimicrobial drugs, are drugs that fight infections caused by bacteria. Alexander Fleming discovered the first antibiotic, penicillin, in 1928. After the first use of antibiotics in the 1940s, they transformed medical care and dramatically reduced illness and death from infectious diseases.

The term “antibiotic” originally referred to a natural compound produced by a fungus or another microorganism that kills bacteria which cause disease in humans or animals. Some antibiotics may be synthetic compounds (not produced by microorganisms) that can also kill or inhibit the growth of microbes. Technically, the term “antimicrobial agent” refers to both natural and synthetic compounds; however, many people use the word “antibiotic” to refer to both. Although antibiotics have many beneficial effects, their use has contributed to the problem of antibiotic resistance.

Questions about Antibiotic Resistance

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria or other microbes to resist the effects of an antibiotic. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. The bacteria survive and continue to multiply causing more harm

Why should I be concerned about antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world’s most pressing public health problems. Almost every type of bacteria has become stronger and less responsive to antibiotic treatment when it is really needed. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria can quickly spread to family members, schoolmates, and co-workers – threatening the community with a new strain of infectious disease that is more difficult to cure and more expensive to treat. For this reason, antibiotic resistance is among CDC’s top concerns.

Antibiotic resistance can cause significant danger and suffering for children and adults who have common infections, once easily treatable with antibiotics. Microbes can develop resistance to specific medicines. A common misconception is that a person’s body becomes resistant to specific drugs. However, it is microbes, not people, that become resistant to the drugs.

If a microbe is resistant to many drugs, treating the infections it causes can become difficult or even impossible. Someone with an infection that is resistant to a certain medicine can pass that resistant infection to another person. In this way, a hard-to-treat illness can be spread from person to person. In some cases, the illness can lead to serious disability or even death.

Why are bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics?

Antibiotic use promotes development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Every time a person takes antibiotics, sensitive bacteria are killed, but resistant germs may be left to grow and multiply. Repeated and improper uses of antibiotics are primary causes of the increase in drug-resistant bacteria.

While antibiotics should be used to treat bacterial infections, they are not effective against viral infections like the common cold, most sore throats, and the flu. Widespread use of antibiotics promotes the spread of antibiotic resistance. Smart use of antibiotics is the key to controlling the spread of resistance.

Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses

How do bacteria become resistant to antibiotics?

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. The bacteria survive and continue to multiply causing more harm. Bacteria can do this through several mechanisms. Some bacteria develop the ability to neutralize the antibiotic before it can do harm, others can rapidly pump the antibiotic out, and still others can change the antibiotic attack site so it cannot affect the function of the bacteria.

Antibiotics kill or inhibit the growth of susceptible bacteria. Sometimes one of the bacteria survives because it has the ability to neutralize or escape the effect of the antibiotic; that one bacterium can then multiply and replace all the bacteria that were killed off. Exposure to antibiotics therefore provides selective pressure, which makes the surviving bacteria more likely to be resistant. In addition, bacteria that were at one time susceptible to an antibiotic can acquire resistance through mutation of their genetic material or by acquiring pieces of DNA that code for the resistance properties from other bacteria. The DNA that codes for resistance can be grouped in a single easily transferable package. This means that bacteria can become resistant to many antimicrobial agents because of the transfer of one piece of DNA.

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) produced anine-minute animationExternal Web Site Icon explaining how antimicrobial resistance both emerges and proliferates among bacteria. Over time, the use of antimicrobial drugs will result in the development of resistant strains of bacteria, complicating clinicians’ efforts to select the appropriate antimicrobial for treatment. How

can I prevent antibiotic-resistant infections?

Only use antibiotics when they are likely to be beneficial

By visiting this website, you are taking the first step to reducing your risk of getting antibiotic-resistant infections. It is important to understand that, although they are very useful drugs, antibiotics designed for bacterial infections are not useful for viral infections such as a cold, cough, or the flu. Some useful tips to remember are:

  1. Talk with your healthcare provider about antibiotic resistance:
    • Ask whether an antibiotic is likely to be beneficial for your illness
    • Ask what else you can do to feel better sooner
  2. Do not take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a cold or the flu.
  3. Do not save some of your antibiotic for the next time you get sick. Discard any leftover medication once you have completed your prescribed course of treatment.
  4. Take an antibiotic exactly as the healthcare provider tells you. Do not skip doses. Complete the prescribed course of treatment even if you are feeling better. If treatment stops too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect.
  5. Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. The antibiotic may not be appropriate for your illness. Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment and allow bacteria to multiply.
  6. If your healthcare provider determines that you do not have a bacterial infection, ask about ways to help relieve your symptoms. Do not pressure your provider to prescribe an antibiotic.
 
How can healthcare providers help prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance?
Prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance by
  • Only prescribe antibiotic therapy when likely to be beneficial to the patient
  • Use an agent targeting the likely pathogens
  • Use the antibiotic for the appropriate dose and duration

(CDC)

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