How many times will a generally healthy toddler pick up infections and viruses while they’re at nursery?
Generally children will get an upper respiratory tract infection between three and eight times a year. If you take it as an average of six times a year, that’s roughly an infection every two months. Younger kids tend to have more, as do children that go to nursery, and kids with a larger family size. Most of these will turn out to be viral infections, but with such infections, you can also get a super imposed bacterial infection. So if a child is unwell, has a high temperature above 38.5 that persists, or the child looks lethargic, then they certainly need to be reviewed to see if they need antibiotics or not.
Is it safe for parents to buy antibiotics over the counter?
They should ALWAYS be prescribed by a medical practitioner. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to keep kids on antibiotics, just because a unprescribed course has been started by their parents and it needs to be completed. Reviewing a child after starting antibiotics confuses the picture. The child might appear better because either they are better and only had a viral infection or because the antibiotic might have partially treated the infection. Laboratory test that come out negative after starting antibiotics are also unreliable because of the same reason. Other times, families come in after a course of antibiotics bought over the counter and the child is still unwell. This is often because the the wrong dose or the wrong duration has been used, or even the wrong antibiotics for the child’s infection. Quite a number of times in such cases, further testing shows the organism has now become resistant to the antibiotic used, necessitating stronger antibiotic regime.
Is it dangerous to be given the wrong dosage?
Absolutely. Generally pharmacists will prescribe a lesser dose, depending on what it says on the bottle, whereas paediatricians will prescribe based on a child’s weight. So, you may have a two-year-old who is quite large, and needs the dosage equivalent to that of an average three-year-old. With an insufficient dosage, the bacteria is not going to die off fully, it may only be partially destroyed, and then become resistant.
What should I do if the antibiotics still don’t seem to be working after the course?
It might have been a viral infection, in which case, no matter how many antibiotics you take it’s not going to make a difference. Also, the illness could have been caused by an organism that is already resistant to the antibiotic you’re taking. It could also be that the child was on an antibiotic that was not appropriate for the infection.
What’s the best way to give a child antibiotics?
It’s safest to just use a measuring dropper and give the correct dosage. If you put the medicine in the child’s milk, for example, and the child decides only to drink half of their bottle, you won’t be sure how much medicine they’ve consumed. Or, if you put it in the milk and the child tastes it and is averse to the taste, you run the risk of the child refusing to eat, which can be an even bigger problem.