SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — With sick season in full swing, some doctors in the Syracuse-area are concerned that antibiotics may not be working as well as they used to.
They’re seeing several kids who need more than one course or medication to wipe out bacterial infections such as strep and ear infections.
Dr. Shaw with Golisano Children’s Hospital believes some providers are overprescribing.
“In outpatient settings where parents usually bring their children, often they get prescribed antibiotics, which are unnecessary,” she said. “A number of respiratory infections are viral and antibiotics don’t work for them.”
She’s not the only one raising the red flag.
Across the county in the Town of Clay, Heather Drake Bianchi, the CEO of Drako’s Pediatric Urgent Care is seeing the domino effect of what she calls a nationwide issue.
“These kids are coming in and we’re all like, ‘Oh they were just here the other week, now what phase of antibiotic are we at,’” she said. “They’ll be on their third type of antibiotic before we see any kind of effect and that’s becoming more and more routine.”
Dr. Shaw suspects the problem is twofold.
Everyone wants to feel better faster, but many don’t realize viruses like the flu or cold can’t be fixed with a prescription.
It’s natural to have symptoms for at least three to five days and those are the times that patients typically feel the worst. Gradually, patients will get better without antibiotics, naturally they will get better, so by day 10 patients should be better, they won’t be perfect. If you see someone at day five and they’re feeling sick, it’s kind of expected, antibiotics won’t make a difference, they will contribute to building antibiotic resistance.
Dr. Jana Shaw
She says another factor may be that some doctors are fearful after COVID-19.
“A small proportion of people who have a viral illness, they can go on developing a serious bacterial infection where antibiotics are the treatment,” she said. “They don’t want to miss that, they don’t want their patient getting worse.”
Heather Drake Bianchi fears finances also play a role.
“We see a fair amount of families in poverty where maybe the mom is sick and the kid is sick and they don’t necessarily have money for both things. So, mom might give medication to the kid instead of finishing it herself but all that does is create a split dose and an incorrect dose,” she said.
So what’s the solution?
Both providers are stressing the importance of hand washing, getting enough sleep, and getting vaccines when available.
“Challenge ourselves and our providers by asking, ‘Do I really need this antibiotic and if I do, is it the narrowest one, the one that really targets what I’m most likely to have, and do I really need this long a course’,” said Shaw.
Dr. Shaw also warns antibiotics can upset our gut microbiome, which is another reason she says everyone needs to do their part to prevent antibiotic resistance.
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