The Dangers Of Antibiotic Overuse

In a world where we consider ourselves lucky for the medical resources we have access to, it is easy as parents to think of drug prescriptions as an automatic result from a child’s visit to the doctor. However, oftentimes the wrong antibiotic prescription or over-dependency on antibiotics can actually do more harm then good.

The following resource guide to help explain the appropriate uses of antibiotics, the inappropriate uses, dangers of overuse, and recommendations for changing our future. A list of book recommendations at the end provides further reading for those interested.

Quick Facts Appropriate Uses of Antibiotics Common Misuses of Antibiotics Dangers of Misuse What Can We Do About It? Book Resources

Quick Facts

Appropriate Uses of Antibiotics

  • About Bacteria and Antibiotics: This page is a good introduction to what bacteria and antibiotics are and what antibiotics should be used for.  Understanding the basics will help you make a more informed choice about using antibiotics in the future.
  • Antibiotics: This webpage is a general usage guide on antibiotics from Cornell University.  The site contains suggestions on the most safe and appropriate uses of antibiotic drugs.
  • Antibiotics for URIs in Children: Part 1. Otitis Media and Acute Sinusitis: This paper discusses the proper treatment for some common upper respiratory tract infections.  The article focuses on children as they are the most common users of antimicrobial drugs.
  • Antibiotics: Tips for Safe Use: This guide from ABC news discusses safe ways to use antibiotics.  The article also reviews some of the more commonly prescribed antibiotic drugs.
  • Ear Infections in Children: This resource guide from the New York State Department of Health discusses the ins and outs of dealing with a child’s ear infection.  Prevention measures are also mentioned.
  • Guidelines for Antibiotic Use: A resource for parents, this page outlines good practices in antibiotic use.  The suggestions will also help you navigate the subject of antibiotics with your child’s pediatrician.
  • The History of Antibiotics: This article reviews the history of antibiotics to help create an understanding of what they are and why they should be used.  After reading this piece parents should feel more at ease about their doctor’s treatment recommendations.
  • Improper Use of Antibiotics: This resource page from the United Health Foundation offers suggestions on how to navigate the use of antibiotics.  The page is helpful in preparing for a doctor visit.
  • Inappropriate Use of Antibiotics May Be Harmful: This news article discusses the dangers of antibiotic misuse and some of the ways to determine if antibiotics are right for your particular illness.  The last section also contains a brief suggestion for how to prevent misuse of antibiotics in everyday life.
  • Safe Antibiotic Use: Consumer Information: This website, through the Oregon Department of Human Services, helps consumers make wiser choices in antibiotic usage.  The site contains helpful parent-friendly brochures in both English and Spanish.

Common Misuses of Antibiotics

  • Antibiotic Use and Misuse: This article places a global perspective on the dangers of antibiotic resistance.  The page urges better practices on behalf of both patients and physicians.
  • CDC – Get Smart: What Everyone Should Know and Do With Antibiotics: This resource from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a quick guide to illnesses that should not be treated with antibiotics.  The website also includes some general suggestions for appropriate use of antibiotics.
  • Dose to Dinner Plate: Congress Examines Antibiotic Use in Livestock: This article shows that the debate about animal livestock and antibiotic use is far from over.  While many have made recommendations for curbing the use of antibiotics on farm animals, other say that not enough evidence exists to link livestock practices with human antibiotic resistance.
  • FDA Urges Less Use of Antimicrobials in Food Production: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recommended more caution in the use of antimicrobial drugs among livestock.  Antimicrobials are considered a potential factor in the increasing rates of animal and human drug resistance.
  • Free Antibiotics: The Wrong Prescription for Cold and Flu Season: This page discusses the reasons why giving away free antibiotic prescriptions for the cold and flu season is a bad idea.  Although these maneuvers may make sense financially, they tend to cause more harm than good in the long run.
  • How Bacteria Become Resistant: This page illuminates causes of antibiotic resistance aside from misuse.  The article illustrates how resistance can spread even under the most prudent use of antibiotic drugs.
  • Parents’ and Physicians’ Views on Antibiotics: This study presented by the American Academy of Pediatrics examines physician and parent perspectives in regard to antibiotic prescriptions.  Among other findings, the study notes that parents often ask for antibiotic prescriptions even when their child’s pediatrician notes that they are not necessary.
  • Parents, Physicians and the Use of Antibiotics: A Vicious Cycle?: This article from the Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital proves how common parents and physicians may disagree over the decision not to prescribe antibiotics.  The article offers some suggestions relevant to both physicians and parents for changing this pattern.
  • Special Report: Prescription Drug Misuse: This article puts a human face on the problem of antibiotic resistance.  Through anecdotes, we see how easy and common it is to take antibiotics inappropriately.
  • What Are the Effects of Antibiotics on Bacteria Evolution?: This site explains from a more scientific viewpoint the evolution of bacterial resistance and how misuse of antibiotics contributes to that evolution.  The sidebar contains several other helpful links related to antibiotics.
  • Who’s Hogging Our Antibiotics?: This site from The PEW Charitable Trusts discusses the overuse of antibiotics for livestock.  The page cites an editorial article which posits that order to curb the rates of antibiotic resistance we need to figure out how to handle this issue.

Dangers of Misuse

  • Antibiotic Resistance: The Problem Keeps Multiplying: This article discusses the rise in staph infections due to antibiotic resistance.  The author cites several factors which make it difficult to use antibiotics in the most effective way possible.
  • Antibiotics: Misuse Puts You and Others at Risk: This resource is a comprehensive overview of the issues surrounding antibiotic overuse.  In particular, the article discusses the reasons why misuse of the drugs can be dangerous.
  • CDC – Get Smart: Fast Facts About Antibiotic Resistance: This page from the Centers for Disease Control highlights the main reasons why antibiotic resistance is dangerous.  The resource also describes some of the trends in antibiotic prescription usage and costs.
  • The Danger of Antibiotic Overuse: This resource talks about the dangers of antibiotic overuse in relation to children.  General suggestions follow the discussion of dangers.
  • Danger of Antibiotics Fact Sheet: This resource from the Environmental Defense Fund discusses the animal farming industry and antibiotics.  They end with several suggestions to government and corporate entities.
  • Dangers of Antibiotic Overuse: This news article is a very brief overview of some of the dangers of antibiotic overuse.  The article also has a short list of suggestions for avoiding overuse.
  • Fighting Superbugs: This report contains a number of different articles on antibiotic resistance.  The bulletin includes personal stories, a timeline of antibiotic use in history, and recent research on the issue.
  • Losing the Race With Bugs: Bacteria Beats New Drugs: This article from the UCLA School of Pubic Health reviews some of the dangers of antibiotic overuse in relation to specific illnesses.  The author also provides some insight in what will and will not work to reduce antibiotic resistance.
  • MRSA: Antibiotic Resistant Staph Infection: This article examines one of the dangerous kinds of infections that can result from antibiotic resistance.  The article seeks to increase understanding of staph infections and how to avoid them.
  • Overdoing Antibiotics: This article from Harvard Medical School discusses why overuse of antibiotics can lead to dangerous health situations.  The page offers a chronology of the evolution of antibiotic resistance.

What Can We Do About It?

Book Resources