Antibiotics: How to use safely

Child taking medication

Overusing or misusing antibiotics can put a child’s long-term health at risk. As well as reducing the beneficia​l microorganisms that the body needs​, unsafe use of antibiotics is a factor in the growing public health concern of antibiotic resistance.

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance happens when a medicine can no longer kill or stop particular bacteria, or germs, from growing. Resistance can also prevent disinfectants and other man-made substances from working.

Why is antibiotic resistance a concern?

Antibiotics work by killing harmful bacteria, but some harmful bacteria are stronger than others. Overusing or misusing antibiotics usually just kills weaker bacteria. The stronger germs survive, reproduce, and grow more resilient. In fact, the stronger germs not only resist one type of antibiotics but can develop resistance to other types too.

Of particular concern is resistance to the class of antibiotics called carbapenems. These antibiotics fight bacteria that are already resistant to a range of other drugs. As a result, carbapenems are the “last-resort” antibiotics; no other antibiotics are being developed.

How do you avoid overusing antibiotics for your child?

  • Get a proper diagnosis. According to Health Canada, it is the first step in effectively treating a condition and preventing unnecessary use of antibiotics.
  • Follow the instructions on medicines labels or given by the doctor or pharmacist.
  • Finish the entire course of antibiotics. Do not stop without asking your doctor first. Even if you feel better, take all the antibiotics to make sure they destroy all the germs.
  • If your child experiences side effects, such as antibiotic-related diarrhea, talk to your doctor immediately.

How do you safely dispose of antibiotics?

Never flush expired or unused medicine down the toilet, pour it down the sink, or throwTab 3 of 5it in the garbage. If you do, the medicine enters the water system, which can make the problem of drug resistance much worse.

Check if your pharmacy has a recycling program that disposes of unused drugs in an environmentally safe way. If you cannot find one, take the medicine to your municipal waste disposal depot.

To learn more, Health Canada lists safer ways to properly dispose of antibiotics and drugs

Key points

  • Antibiotic resistance happens when a medicine can no longer kill or stop particular bacteria, or germs, from growing.
  • Overusing or misusing antibiotics usually just kills weaker bacteria. The stronger germs survive, reproduce, and grow more resilient.
  • To avoid over-using antibiotics, make sure your child receives a proper diagnosis, always follow the instructions and finish the entire course of antibiotics.
  • Check your local pharmacy for instructions on how to safely dispose of antibiotics. Never dispose any medicine down the toilet, sink or throw it in the garbage.
11/12/2012




Notes: