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Prescriptions Not For Sharing

Parents may be tempted to forgo a trip to the doctor and instead diagnose their child's illness during this winter season. Dr. Deanna Lites of CBS station WFOR-TV in Miami reports on the dangers of using what's in the medicine cabinet to treat a sick child.

"If they have the same exact symptoms as her sister had, I definitely will just go ahead and start them on whatever medication I got for the first one," says Debbie Goldwasser, a mother of two.

Even if symptoms are similar, the infection one child catches from another is not always the same. One kid could have a runny nose and his friend might have a cough problem.

"I strongly disagree with starting antibiotics just because the child has some symptoms resembling somebody else's illness," says Dr. Galo Grijalva of Miami's Children's Hospital.

Leftover prescription medicine should not even be hanging around. The prescribed dosage for an antibiotic must be completed in order for it to be effective. Also, medicine should never be stored past the expiration date.

"It really poses a big danger to use antibiotics or any other medication that has been prescribed for somebody else." says Dr. Otto Ramos of Miami's Children's Hospital. "I believe that it is important that any medication that is unfinished be gotten rid of. It may be bad, it may be unsuitable for other children."

It's important to remember, antibiotics aren't always necessary and frequent use could cause your child to build up an immunity to them.

"The next time the child has an infection with that bacteria that same antibiotic won't work." says Dr. Anthony Martell.

Antibiotics generally do not work for viral infections and there is no quick fix for the most common maladies. To help flush out the infection, doctors advise making sure the child gets plenty of rest and drinks lots of fluids.

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