by Aviva Romm: MD, Midwife, Herbalist, Momma and Grandmomma
Twenty-eight years ago, when the first of my four kids was a tiny tot, I was eager to learn everything I could about natural treatments for common kid’s conditions. There wasn’t much information available on how to use natural remedies, and most folks I knew took their kids to the doctor’s office for every fever and sniffle, accepting whatever medication was handed out as the solution. I knew that there was a healthier way to treat my son rather than to treat every symptom with an antibiotic.
I remember feeling anxious and vulnerable treating that first fever and upper respiratory infection he had, choosing not to use conventional therapies. What if I missed a dangerous illness? How would I know if my little one was really sick and needed a medicine? Could I really trust the bond I felt between my baby and me to guide my intuition and common sense in decision-making around health care issues? Could I really trust herbs and foods to help?
Around that time I took a class with a wise older doctor who told me that in all of his 30 years of practice, he’d only once had a case where he found an illness in a child that the momma hadn’t picked up on first. Knowing this gave me a lot of confidence to trust myself to take care of my kids. I’ve since heard this sentiment repeated many times by experienced family doctors and pediatricians.
Now, three decades into using natural medicines, I have treated many hundreds of children, and through my books and classes, have supported thousands of families in taking care of their kids naturally. I have gained tremendous insight into when and how to use herbs and other natural approaches safely and effectively, and when medical care is appropriate – and still believe that moms generally do know when their kids are well, and when they are not.
This blog provides you with resources that give you clear, simple guidelines that you can use to make intelligent choices about antibiotic use, and links you up with some of my favorite recipes for fever, cough, and ear infections in kids.
Should I Give My Child Antibiotics?
In 2011 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a report on the problem of unnecessary antibiotic prescribing for kids. They found that doctors were unnecessarily prescribing antibiotics for kids more than 50% of the time, most often for upper respiratory infections (colds, coughs, ear infections, sinusitis, and sore throats).
Inappropriate antibiotic prescribing is the primary cause of antibiotic resistance, which is a major global public health problem. Further, medical science is waking up to the fact that pediatric antibiotic exposure is not benign, and may lead to asthma, eczema, and the development of inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease later in life.
Other commonly prescribed adjunct therapies for common kids’ infections, for example, Tylenol and ibuprofen carry the potential for serious side effects, including the development of asthma and gastrointestinal bleeding, respectively. Tylenol overuse is one of the most common causes of liver failure in the United States. While antibiotics and other medications can be are lifesaving when necessary, when overprescribed and misused, the consequences can be deadly!
Antibiotics are often given unnecessarily for common pediatric infections because doctors think that parents want or expect them. Indeed, I’ve had to talk dozens of parents out of an antibiotics prescription – they are accustomed to doctors giving meds, and they are afraid and don’t want their kids to suffer. Doctors also prescribe antibiotics because they are worried about missing a serious diagnosis – and then there is also fear of litigation for the rare missed or undertreated infection.
The truth is that:
- You generally do not have to treat fever. Comfort measures and lot of fluids are the most important treatments for most kids.
- Antibiotics do not treat coughs due to viral infections and are almost never indicated for coughs due to colds or bronchitis but are overprescribed for both.
- Ear infection is the most common reason for a pediatric office visit, and one of the most common conditions leading to antibiotic over-prescription. Approximately 80% of kids with acute otitis media get better without antibiotics!
If you haven’t caught my subtext by now, I’m a big advocate of avoiding unnecessary antibiotic use, and the fact is, for common pediatric infections, they’re unnecessary. Natural approaches can play a huge role in supporting health and comfort while avoiding unnecessary medications.
Want to Learn More?
Want to learn how treat your kids’ common illnesses with natural remedies? Here’s a roundup of resources that I created to help parents get their kids through colds and other common illnesses … naturally. Adults can use them, too!
Herbs for Kids: Taking Charge of Your Child’s Health Naturally
This is my FREE pedi-E-book. If you have a copy, pull it out – now’s a great time to start using it. If you don’t have one, it’s easy to get – simply sign up on my website and you’ll get immediate access. There is no cost for signing up.
Natural approaches to common kids’ illnesses is an important but underutilized art. The health of the individual and the balance of the planet are at stake when antibiotics are inappropriately used.
Stay tuned to my website and follow me on Facebook and you’ll be the first to know when I release the highly anticipated course Pediatrics for Parents in 2014.