Preventing irrational antibiotic use in kids with URI in India


Upper respiratory tract infection (URI) is one of the most commonly occurring infections in children, not only in India, but across the general population. It is believed to be one of the most common reasons for visits to a physician, as well as absenteeism from school, in Indian children. Most of the time, the infection is of viral origin, which doesn’t require the use of antibiotics [1]. A URI of viral origin can be easily treated with empirical treatment of the physician’s prescribed cough and cold medicines. The unnecessary use of antibiotics for the treatment of URI of viral origin, however, can lead to the inappropriate or overuse of antibiotics.

Key Point: Non-prescription use of antibiotics is one of the most common reasons for the over-usage of antibiotics in Indian children. A triad of efforts focusing on the doctors, parents, and the pharmacist can help to substantially decrease antibiotic misuse. There is certainly a need for taking strict action by the government to stop the over-usage of antibiotics, otherwise antibiotic resistance will lead to the development of resistant strains of bacteria.

Harms associated with antibiotic usage

  1. Antibiotic resistance: Over/inappropriate usage of antibiotics leads to the development of resistant antibiotic strains of the microorganism, which are difficult to treat. Ultimately, microbes will develop resistance against all the available antibiotics, and it becomes impossible to treat even simple infections.
  2. Adverse drug reaction: There is an increase in the risk of developing an adverse drug reaction associated with antibiotic therapy.
  3. Out of pocket expenditure: Antibiotics are among the most costly medicinal treatments of URIs. Increased overall usage of this form of treatment leads to the increased cost of prescriptions.

Reasons for overuse of antibiotics in Indian children

  1. Pharmacist: The profit associated with the sale of prescription drugs can lead to the consuming patient’s inappropriate antibiotic usage [2].
  2. Lack of parents’ knowledge: Lack of knowledge regarding the appropriate use of antibiotics and belief in myths regarding antibiotic usage lead to the use of antibiotics for viral infection or use of antibiotics for an inappropriate duration or frequency [3].
  3. Parents’ expectations: Parents generally expect having to use over-the-counter or doctor-prescribed antibiotics. Many parents believe that using antibiotics for viral infections will help reduce the duration of illness, if they are “strong” medicines.
  4. Pediatrician/Doctor perception: Some clinicians prescribe antibiotics to any patient with a fever, taking it as a sign of bacterial infection [4]. Some use these to prevent secondary bacterial infections, though scientific data does not support this indication.

URIs are largely self-limiting, and complications are likely to be rare if...

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This entry was posted in Pediatrics, Respiratory and tagged , , , . Volume: .