Antibiotics Do Not Work against Bronchitis

Doctors recommend rest and drinking a lot of fluids instead of taking handfuls of useless antibiotics

By on November 16th, 2006 09:24 GMT
Taking into account the fact that most cases of bronchitis are not caused by bacterial infections, but by viral ones, antibiotics are not the appropriate medical treatment against the inflammation of the lung airways. Moreover, the more antibiotics one takes, the more increased his body's antibiotic resistance becomes, consequently, the individual will need more and more powerful antibiotics over time.

A recent report published in the New England Journal of Medicine cautioned that doctors should stop prescribing handfuls of antibiotics to every bronchitis patient who enters his office. The study has been carried out by two researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine who investigated all previous important scientific literature on bronchitis and reached the conclusion that antibiotics are useless most of the times when it comes to treating bronchitis.

Co-author of the paper, Dr. Richard P. Wenzel, Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth, stated that about 70-80% of doctors recommend antibiotics to all bronchitis sufferers who come to consultation. But this is not the most appropriate way to cure bronchitis, first of all because the treatment will not work.

Wenzel said: "Physicians should be encouraged to avoid antibiotics in most cases" and explained that bronchitis, which is the inflammation of tiny airways in the lungs is not caused by bacteria, it is "caused by agents for which we have no therapy yet," namely by viruses.

Other reasons why individuals who get sick with bronchitis should avoid taking antibiotics lay in the fact that this treatment is usually expensive, but useless at the same time. Therefore, stop spending your money on antibiotics hoping that they would cure bronchitis, as they will surely not. Moreover, "all antibiotics have side effects, such as rash, diarrhea and abdominal pain" and people should take antibiotics which trigger side-effects only when the treatment works for at least one serious condition one suffers from.

Wenzel went on enumerating reasons why bronchitis patients should avoid taking antibiotics - the intake of large amounts of antibiotics brings about an increased resistance to antibiotics. The expert said: "The third reason for not prescribing antibiotics is the impressive pressure it puts on organisms to select more resistant strains, so that the ones we use will no longer be effective."

The American Academy of Family Physicians also stated that antibiotics are not the solution for bronchitis. Instead, the most appropriate way to cure the disorder is simply staying at home, resting and drinking a lot of non-caffeinated fluids. However, if the disorder does not go away in a few days or a week, patients and doctors should consider a more serious condition, such as asthma or pneumonia.

Professor Richard Wenzel concluded: "There are many things we prescribe that are not based on evidence in the literature. There is a long history of patients receiving antibiotics for acute bronchitis and they have come to expect receiving a prescription for treatment. Physicians can help patients by not prescribing them antibiotics for acute bronchitis - saving them from potential side effects and unnecessary costs."
  
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