Antibiotics Don’t Help Bronchitis Symptoms

December 21, 2012

Hacking CoughYou may already know that doctors over-prescribe antibiotics, and that sinusitis, which is mostly caused by viral infections, is the leading disease for which they’re over-prescribed.

Add Bronchitis to the list of diseases that don’t deserve antibiotics. If you can rule out Pneumonia, which is a bacteria, as a cause, then prescribing antibiotics will only cause side-effects without relieving symptoms of bronchitis, according to a new study.

Bronchitis symptoms, like coughing, should sound different to a trained ear than that of Pneumonia when the doctor listens to your chest—they often infect different parts of the lungs. If there’s no reason to suspect Pneumonia, then the new study says doctors should not prescribe antibiotics, which is contrary to the current practice (in a few rare cases, antibiotics may keep Bronchitis symptoms from progressing a bit, but dozens of people would receive unnecessary antibiotics and unnecessary side-effects to achieve that benefit, which is minor).

Another issue is antibiotic resistance. Ranching is probably the leading cause, but hospitals play a role too by over prescribing antibiotics. The rise of antibiotics resistant pneumonia started in nursing homes and spread to hospitals, for instance. So even in some cases of pneumonia prescribing antibiotics may only cause good bacteria to die rather than the harmful bacteria causing the disease.

How do you handle antibiotics with your doctor? Do you turn them down in situations you know are probably viral?

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