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Should I give antibiotics to my child?

Q: My daughter is 15 months old. She was prescribed an antibiotic (Amox) when she had fever. The antibiotics were upsetting her stomach. I have been asked to give her 5 ml every 8 hours for 5 days. Should we follow the antibiotics schedule accurately? Sometimes while she is sleeping it becomes more than 12 hours, before I can give her the medicine. Will this have any side effects? Her fever subsided a day after starting antibiotics, but she has loose motions. Do we need to complete the course though the illness has gone, especially since she seems to have side effects? Can antibiotics be taken on an empty stomach? Can we give iron supplements or multivitamins along with the antibiotics?

A:Antibiotics are useful and are indicated only when there is bacterial infection; they are not effective in viral cases. Hence, unless a diagnosis of bacterial infection is made, antibiotics will do more harm than good. Since you have not given the diagnosis, I assume it was a case of PUO (Pyrexia of Unknown Origin). In simple words no diagnosis was made. Under such cases one should only give a safe antipyretic (fever lowering agent) such as paracetamol (Crocin) to small children. In most cases, the fever is due to viruses and will come down in 3-4 days. In the case mentioned by you in all likelihood, the child became alright not because of antibiotic but on its own. One of the side effects of amoxycillin (Amox is the brand name) is loose motions. This can lead to dehydration and more trouble. Since a diagnosis of bacterial infection was not made, there is no point in continuing the course of antibiotic. There is no need to give iron. However you can give the child half a sachet of Sporolac powder daily for 3-4 days. It contains the so called good germs that produce B-complex factors in the intestines and is specifically meant for diarrhoea produced by the use of antibiotics.

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