Should You Give Your Child Two Doses Of Antibiotics If You Miss One? A Pharmacist Explains
Dealing with a sick child is stressful. Whether it's an ear infection or something more serious, there's a lot happening when you're taking care of a kid who isn't feeling 100 percent, especially if they're prescribed an antibiotic like amoxicillin to help clear up the infection. Doctors are adamant about not missing a dose, but what happens if you do? With all of the worries about antibiotic resistant bacteria, and the sheer unknown of what it could do to your baby, you might be wondering, should you give your child two doses of antibiotics if you miss a dose?
Contrary to popular belief, when considering medications, children are not just small adults. Their bodies process things differently than yours does. While you may not think twice about popping two bubbles of a Z-pack and swishing them back with your Gatorade, you shouldn't do so with children. According to Britain's National Health Service (NHS), if you miss a dose of antibiotics, you should administer said dose as soon as you remember that you've missed it. However, if it's close (within a few hours time) to the time when you would normally administer the medication, skip the missed dose and wait until the next period of administration. Do not give children more than one dose at a time unless specifically instructed by your physician.
Antibiotics are strange and you need to be really cautious when using them. The overuse of antibiotics has led to some seriously terrifying superbugs like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA), according to a recent study in Pharmacy and Therapeutics. One of the reasons this has happened is that antibiotics are generally overprescribed. This is getting better in recent years with the number of scripts steadily decreasing, but they're still used too frequently. Just like if you drink a glass or two of wine every night, it will take longer to get you feeling like you're drunk than if you never drink at all. Bacteria becoming resistant and mutating, evolving to resist the antibiotic.
Another reason the overuse of antibiotics is dangerous is when they're not taken properly or prescribed in the right dosage or for the length of time. Not taking enough, or taking too much, or any flighty behavior regarding the meds can help the bacteria become super bacteria. Just imagine blocking a wave with a big sieve. Sure, it will block plenty, but plenty more will get through, and they'll be laser focused on their target.
The other major contributing factor, according to the study, is the mass use of antibiotics in agriculture, primarily livestock. Antibiotics can really help cows and other livestock remain healthy and hale. It makes a better product and it keeps prices low because ranchers don't lose stock to illness near as often. However, the same problems linger there, and on top of it, the antibiotics make their way into the food chain, furthering the resistance to the medications, changing the bacteria, and changing the way our bodies react.
I spoke with pharmacist Nicola Otuskaya of Brooklyn, New York, to find out more about the proper protocol following a missed antibiotics dose. She tells Romper, "If your child misses a dose of antibiotics, take it right away. If it's time for the next one, take only a single dose, not two doses." She says to ask the pediatrician when it's prescribed what you should do when you are prescribed the med, but she can't think of a time when you'd give two doses at a time because of an accidental miss. There are too many side effects possible to do that. There's a level of safety when it comes to medication, and dosage is important.
Be careful with your antibiotics, but don't freak out if you miss a dose. Give the missed dose or wait until the next. Don't beat yourself up about it — taking care of a sick kid is hard, and no one is perfect all the time.
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