A US study has found no evidence that antibiotics are effective
against most cases of acute bronchitis, and researchers recommended
that doctors stop prescribing the drugs to treat them.
Prescribing antibiotics to treat short-term bronchitis is
unnecessary, since nearly all the causes of such infections are
viral and therefore do not respond to the therapy, according to the
study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
"There is a long history of patients receiving antibiotics for
acute bronchitis and they have come to expect receiving a
prescription for treatment," said Richard Wenzel, Virginia
Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Medicine professor and
author of the study.
"Physicians can help patients by not prescribing them
antibiotics for acute bronchitis - saving them from potential side
effects and unnecessary costs," Wenzel said in a statement.
Acute bronchitis is a common condition caused by inflammation of
the bronchi of the lungs. It is found in five percent of adults each year.
Small percentage caused by bacteria
Only a small percentage of acute bronchitis cases - such as
whooping cough - are caused by bacteria that physicians can treat,
the researchers said.
Wenzel and VCU colleague Alpha Fowler reviewed research studies
and clinical trials from around the world to reach their conclusions.
"Physicians should inform their patients that there are no data
in the literature to support the use of antibiotics for this
condition," Wenzel said.
Antibiotics given over 70% of the time
About 70 to 80 percent of people suffering from acute bronchitis
are prescribed antibiotics for treatment that lasts five to 10
days, he said.
The researchers also found that prescription cough medications
are prescribed in almost 100 percent of acute bronchitis cases, although there is little evidence they have any effect. – (Sapa-AFP)
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