Stories about: antibiotics

MRSA, microbes and medicines: what parents need to know on World MRSA Day

MRSA
methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

The discovery of penicillin in 1928 marked the beginning of the antibiotic era and dramatic improvements in health and medicine. With mass production of the new “wonder drug” in the 1940’s, threats from killer diseases, such as bacterial infections and pneumonia, waned. However, less than 100 years later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has sounded the alarm about the possibility of a post-antibiotic era.

That’s due to the growing menace of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or bacteria that have developed resistance to the drugs that once killed them.

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It’s Get Smart About Antibiotics Week!

We are entering cold and flu season—that time of year when many of us, and many of our loved ones, get sore throats and coughs and congestion and fevers and feel downright miserable. In our quest to feel better (and to make those we love feel better), it’s natural to want to do everything possible. So it’s understandable that many people want their doctors to give them antibiotics—after all, they have an infection and antibiotics treat infections, right?

Not exactly—or at least not always. That’s why the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has declared November 12th-18th “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week”: to help teach people what they need to know about antibiotics.

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Shades of gray: Why medicine isn’t always as clear-cut as we’d like

Claire McCarthy, MD

Recently I wrote a blog about how the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks that otherwise healthy children with ear infections should wait a couple of days before starting antibiotics, because many will get better without them.

Now there are two articles in the New England Journal of Medicine (here and here) saying that children with ear infections who are given antibiotics are more likely to get better, and to get better quickly, than those who aren’t.

Awkward.

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Giving antibiotics too soon can be a real pain in the ear

Claire McCarthy, MD

Your 3-year-old is cranky, has a little fever, and is telling you that his ear hurts. Time to call the doctor and go get a prescription for antibiotics, right?

Well, maybe not.

It turns out the most ear infections get better all by themselves, without antibiotics. We’ve known this for a while. In fact, way back in 2004 the American Academy of Pediatrics came out with a clinical practice guideline for the treatment of ear infections, saying that for generally healthy children over the age of 6 months who don’t have severe infections, it’s a good idea to wait 48 to 72 hours before starting antibiotics. By then, most children will be better and won’t need them anymore.

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