Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Get Smart: Don't ask for antibiotics, ask if they're right for you

Posted March 10, 2015

The campaign aims to curb antibiotic overuse.

For years, patients were heading into the doctor's office with common ailments like colds or ear infections and leaving with a prescription for antibiotics. But antibiotics overuse for viral illnesses like those have led to a new battle: resistance of the drugs, which are designed to killed bacterial infections, not viral illnesses.

The state launched a campaign late last year called Get Smart About Antibiotics to educate doctors and patients about antibiotics overuse. You've probably seen the commercials, which encourage patients to ask their doctors whether an antibiotic is indicated for their illness, not if they can leave with a prescription for one.

In fact, patients shouldn't go into the doctor expecting to come out with a prescription of any kind. Many common illnesses - cold, flu, and most sore throats and ear infections - can't be cured with an antibiotic.

Taking an antibiotic in those cases won't cure the infection, won't keep others from getting sick, won't help you or your child feel better, could cause harmful side effects and might contribute to antibiotic resistance, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"From the parents' perspective, understanding that even if your child is in pain or has an ear infection that an antibiotic might not be the answer and talking with your provider about whether it would be something helpful," said Dr. Zack Moore, a pediatrician and medical epidemiologist in the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services' communicable disease branch.

Instead, patients should be open to listening to the recommendations that their doctor gives when it comes to prescribing antibiotics. Just ask if antibiotics are the right way to go, he said.

"Don't pressure your doctor," Dr. Moore said. "Opening the conversation about whether it would be useful is a better approach."

Go Ask Mom is partnering with the North Carolina Quality Center to help parents Get Smart About Antibiotics. For additional information and resources, see {{a href="externa-link-0"}}{{/a}}.


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