Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The one question you must ask your pediatrician...

Its flu season. A fact most of us moms know first-hand! The majority of my mommy friends and all their precious little ones are either combating it or recovering from it. I for one, am recovering from round 2 of that indiscriminating virus. My kids are resilient and have bounced back as if nothing ever happened, as kids do. But in the throes of illness they were washed up on our couch, completely motionless (a devastating thing for toddlers), clutching in each hand puke buckets and kleenex boxes.
I am not one to run my kids in to their doctor at the first sniffle, as normally I tend to hold to the "ride it out" policy. But inevitably, either severity or duration of symptoms scares me into the clinic of our gentle doctor. Generally it is the nagging "what if's" that send me to our pediatrician, for there are so many complications of childhood illness that mimic common symptoms- like pneumonia. When I go to our pediatrician, I don't come asking for a magic potion cure, for I am fully aware that childhood illnesse is a fact of life, and most come and go with the proper TLC. All I REALLY want is reassurance. REASSURANCE that my child is doing ok, and that he is suffering no serious complications; add a dose of advice on how to treat his symptoms and I am re-charged and ready to head home and tackle my baby's illness head on. But I just want to know that I am doing the right things to care for my son and preventing further stress on his system.

Yet, I am now discovering with alarm that my doctor doesn't see me the same way. Somehow he, and many other doctors like him, think us moms go to them for a miracle, an instant cure for our baby's illnesses. The evening news has been calling doctors out more on this topic, and the FDA is starting to take notice too.

Here's the one question each of us moms needs to ask our doctor when our little ones fall ill:

IS IT A BACTERIAL OR VIRAL INFECTION? The difference between bacteria & virus is dramatic in the sense that antibiotics are engineered to treat bacterial infections, but can do nothing to treat viruses. WHY THEN are so many doctors prescribing antibiotics for viruses? Nearly all strains of the influenza, bronchitis, and many others are viral infections and can only be treated symptomatically, not with antibiotics. Yet our doctor thought it was necessary to prescribe antibiotics both times when we had the flu and then bronchitis. I didn't really bat an eye the first time, just taking it in good faith that our doctor had our kids best interest in mind- who am I to challenge a professional? Yet virus round two for us was bronchitis accompanied by mild diarreha. Once again antibiotics were prescribed, along with appropriate prescriptions to treat some of the symptoms of bronchitis. The prescriptions for the symptoms were certainly necessary and did the job, but the antibiotic prescribed did a number on Donovan's already stressed digestive system, thus dramatically increasing the severity of his nausea & diarreha. His bad reaction to the drug caused me to do a little research, and what I found was very disturbing. More and more doctors feel compelled by our society's dependance on prescription drugs to prescribe drugs even when they know full well they are not necessary in all cases, such as when treating viral infections.

I took Donovan off of the antibiotic and within hours his reaction subsided and he began to come around. The actual bronchitis symptoms had subsided within the first two doses of the symptom prescriptions, but we spent an entire weekend battling the side-effects of the anitbiotic before it dawned on us that the drug itself was the culprit making DJ sicker! Reading further the list of complications and side effect from the antibiotic I was even more alarmed. There is so much that can go wrong for my little one, why would any doctor prescribe such a drug if there admitedly is no need?

I for one am going to start asking- is it a virus or bacteria that is making my child sick? From here on out, I will challenge my doctor in any future decisions to prescribe antibiotics for viruses, for while I am all for healing, I don't believe in the etherial magic potion, and I am certianly not willing to take any unneccessary risks with my child's health. Its hard enough to have sick little ones, but moms, trust your insticts and stick to your guns, and educate yourselves, for our healthcare system is flawed, and it is up to us mothers to make sure our child is getting the best healthcare possible.


Duquesa said...

AMEN Sister!!! I'm with you 100% on this. Thanks for the post and I think it's necessary that we moms keep each other updated and on our toes about these issues. We experienced full well how medical professionals DO NOT have all the answers and often times make HUGE mistakes. Thanks. Love you, Bella!

Mama Knucker Hatch said...

I second the AMEN Sister...I'm so sorry for your rough flu bouts. There is nothing more frustrating or draining than feeling like you've cleaned a flu out of your house, only to experience round two shortly thereafter.

I'm also in the "wait it out" camp. But for another reason. Whenever we go to the doctor's office, we all get sick in a week. I avoid well visits like the plague! Well visits for a five year old??? Is that really necessary?

Hang in there. It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job taking care of your little ones. Trust your instincts. :)