Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Despite warnings, doctors continue to prescribe antibiotics for bronchitis

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 4th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In spite of warnings - that the overuse of them may render them obsolete, doctors continue to stubbornly prescribe antibiotics for bronchitis and sore throats. The medical profession continues to prescribe these drugs for most adults seeking treatment at a high rate for 10 years.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Two studies from the late 1990s to 2010, representing more than two million annual visits to doctors' offices or emergency rooms found many doctors taking the "one size fits all" approach to these common ailments.

Side effects from  antibiotics include stomach pain and severe diarrhea. Unneeded prescriptions put patients at needless risk, and leads to decreased effectiveness due to over-use. 

The studies proved that reducing inappropriate prescribing "is frustratingly, disappointingly slow," Dr. Jeffrey Linder, a physician-researcher at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital says. Linder did the research with Brigham colleague Dr. Michael Barnett.

Patients' demands and doctors' time pressures play an important role. It's often easier to prescribe an antibiotic than to take time to explain why they don't work for some illnesses, Dr. Reid Blackwelder, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians says.

A big part of the problem is that prescribing habits didn't change when evidence emerged proved that most sore throats and bronchitis are caused by viruses. In this case, 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.

Dr. Ed Septimus, a professor at Texas A&M Health Science Center in Houston, says that the development of more rapid testing to identify germs that cause sore throats or bronchitis could help curb the practice.

One analysis found antibiotics were prescribed at 60 percent of primary-care and emergency room visits for sore throats in 2010, a rate that didn't change over 10 years but was down from about 70 percent in the 1990s. 

A second analysis found antibiotics were prescribed at 73 percent of all visits for bronchitis in 2010, a rate that didn't change from 1996. Only rare cases of bronchitis are caused by bacteria.

Some over-the-counter cough medicines can help bronchitis; gargling with salt water can help sore throats, and rest and fluids can help both.

Click here to learn about our Saint Michael the Archangel conference this Nov 1-3!

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)