Antibiotics are not always the answer

Many Australian parents believe that symptoms of sore throat, cough, cold and earache experienced by their children need to be treated with antibiotics, according to research released by independent not-for-profit NPS MedicineWise for World Antibiotic Awareness Week (November 13-17). 

The survey of over 1000 respondents found that close to one third of parents visit their GPs with the intention of getting antibiotics to treat under-14-year-old children who have sore throats, coughs or colds. This suggests some parents are unaware that these are usually self-limiting infections that will resolve without antibiotics. 

The treatment of ear infection appears to cause the most concern for parents. 55 per cent of parents expect an antibiotic prescription for their child’s earache, and 42 per cent would ask for antibiotics. 

Although antibiotics are sometimes required for ear infections, they mostly clear up on their own.

 After 24 hours six out of 10 children are feeling better, whether they had antibiotics or not. 

Dr Andrew Boyden, 

NPS MedicineWise Medical Adviser 

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