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Parent giving child antibiotic in a water mixture

How Antibiotics Work In Kids & What You Can Do About the Risks

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – probiotics are one of the best ways to build a strong immune system. A diverse gut microbiome, filled with good bacteria, is the key to a healthy life. In the past, we have shared why gut bacteria plays such a big role in keeping your kids healthy, and how it does a great job of stopping colds from creeping in. But today, let’s rock the boat a little bit, yeah?

There will come a day when your kid has to take antibiotics. We know, it’s not ideal… But that’s reality. Kids get sick, and we want to equip you with the information you need to get them back on their feet as quickly as possible. Because antibiotics aren’t a “one and done” type of medication like you might think. 

How do antibiotics work in kids?

Well, the same way they work in adults – which is good and bad. On the plus side, antibiotics are highly effective in children. If you’ve ever had a 3 year old with an ear infection so bad that their screams might make you deaf, you probably know how necessary these powerful prescriptions are. And if you haven’t, we’re jealous…

Your kids will be prescribed a course of antibiotics when bad bacteria overpowers their immune system and an infection takes hold. Antibiotics are common – the US alone dishes out on average 270 million prescriptions per year. There are alternate ways to rid bad bacteria overgrowth, sure, but antibiotics are typically what your pediatrician will turn to when it’s too late to course correct. 

Antibiotics will kill off all that bad bacteria that’s making your life (and your kid’s life) miserable. Which is great for you, but bad for their gut health. Unfortunately, antibiotics work so well that a lot of the good bacteria in their gut is out the door, also. 

Side effects of antibiotics on kids

You probably know that good bacteria is responsible for improved digestion, immunity, sleep quality, attention span and energy. Which means that when your kid is on antibiotics, all of the above may suffer. 1 in 10 kids also suffer from side effects of antibiotics like: diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and rashes. These side effects can even be worse than the infection itself – in fact, antibiotics are the leading cause of emergency room visits in children. Seems contradictory, doesn’t it? 

So what should you do? Tell your pediatrician, “Thanks, but no thanks” when they try to prescribe antibiotics? No, that’s not what we’re saying. 

Here’s how to get the benefits of antibiotics with none of the drama (see: diarrhea in the ER).

What to do while your kid is on antibiotics

While antibiotics are hard at work combatting the infection in your little one, gut health should be at the top of your mind. 

      1. Give them good bacteria through a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Alexandra Zhernakova, a researcher at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, says, “High amounts of carbohydrates and soda drinks are associated with reduced microbiota diversity, whereas diets high in fruits, vegetables and yogurts are linked with increased diversity.” And you know what benefits from microbiota diversity? Ding ding ding! Gut health.

      2. Probiotics… but not just any probiotic. Antibiotics are life savers (literally) because they’re strong. The bacteria in an everyday probiotic won’t be strong enough. Gut Recovery is the best probiotic to take after antibiotics. It is formulated with strains that can withstand the strength of antibiotics to replenish good bacteria being killed and prevent antibiotic side effects.  
    1. Don’t forget the prebiotics! Prebiotics are non-living ingredients that act as “food” for good bacteria and allow them to thrive in the gut. There are plenty of prebiotic foods, but we think the easiest ones to feed your kids are bananas and honey… easy enough, right? 

And once they’re feeling back to normal… let them play outside! Studies show that kids who play in the dirt and have pets have better gut health than those who don’t. Also, get rid of that antibacterial hand soap… a little bacteria is good! 

We love hearing from parents that Jettie has put a stop to their little one’s constant fevers, coughs and cries. But we’d be steering you in the wrong direction if we acted like they’re never going to get sick again. Now, when the day comes that your little one needs antibiotics, you can rest assured that you know what to expect – so you can spend your time brainstorming how you’re going to get them to actually take their medicine in the first place.