Sore Throat? Bronchitis? No Antibiotics For You

You've probably heard over and over again that antibiotics only work on certain illnesses, not colds and sore throats.  I still wanted them when I had a terrible case of bronchitis, convinced it would stop my hacking cough, several years ago.  But scientists are now saying I was completely wrong, and they're hoping to educate the public once and for all.

According to the Associated Press, "Repeated warnings that antibiotics don’t work for most sore throats and bronchitis have failed to stop overuse." But in a strange twist, probably just to shut patients up, doctors have been prescribing these drugs for "most adults seeking treatment at a rate that remained high over more than a decade, researchers found."

The findings show reducing inappropriate prescribing “is frustratingly, disappointingly slow,” Dr. Jeffrey Linder, a physician-researcher at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told the AP.

Most sore throats and bronchitis are caused by viruses, and antibiotics do not work on viruses.  "Antibiotics only treat infections caused by bacteria, not colds, flu and other illness from viruses. Illnesses antibiotics can treat include bacterial pneumonia, most urinary infections, some types of eye and ear infections, and some types of food poisoning," the AP notes.

So when will we stop asking for antibiotics? I don't know about you, but when they're prescribed for me, I feel a comfort level, and I swear I get better faster.  My husband, a dentist, says the body usually heals itself and doesn't believe in antibiotics for himself.  But he's also asked all the time to prescribe antibiotics for teeth problems that don't get better with them.  Sometimes, he, too, gives in.

But all this leniency on healthcare providers' parts is leading to a family of drug-resistant germs that isn't doing anyone any good.  With some bacterial illnesses, antibiotics that once worked no longer do, researchers are finding.

A scary thought for any mother with a kid with an ear infection and a 105 temperature.

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