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Antibiotics are useless for bronchitis

Published on October 21, 2014 at 14:42 / Updated on October 10, 2019 at 18:53

You have a persistent cough caused by bronchitis? There is no need to run to the doctor’s office to get a prescription for antibiotics because they will be of no help to you.

Bronchitis is a type of inflammation that causes coughing, wheezing and in some cases, fever. Approximately one out of 20 adult suffers from bronchitis each year, but most cases resolve themselves within 10 to 14 days. You should also know that at least nine out of ten cases of bronchitis are caused by viruses which do not respond to antibiotic treatments! In spite of that, a study shows that 70 to 80% of patients who consult a physician for bronchitis will leave the clinic with a prescription for antibiotics, and most of them will also receive one for antitussives. Not only are these prescriptions useless, they can actually cause more harm than good. While taking antibiotics in vain will not bring relief, it will still provoke associated side effects. Abdominal cramps, diarrhea or rashes are likely to occur. The overuse of antibiotics can also lead to antibiotic resistant bacteria which may prevent you from healing quickly when you actually do need them.

Why such frivolous prescriptions of antibiotics? It is partly due to patients actually requesting them from their physicians; these prescriptions comfort us into thinking we are doing something to get better faster. This situation is quite understandable because when we feel under the weather and consult a physician, we usually expect a quick resolution! This forces physicians to spend a lot of time and energy convincing patients that antibiotics will not make them feel better any faster. Faced with time constraints combined with pressure from their patients, some physicians simply go for the easier solution to get patients out the door.

So how should we treat bronchitis? First of all, you must be very patient because coughing will likely last for up to two weeks. The best solution for this type of cough is to drink plenty of liquids, to use a humidifier and to take over-the-counter medication to relieve fever and other bothersome symptoms.

Therefore, unless you have a high fever or feel unbearably awful, consulting a physician for a cough that lasts less than two weeks is pointless because it is most likely caused by a virus. If your physician prescribes antibiotics, you should not hesitate to ask if you can wait a few days before filling your prescription. This will allow you to gauge how your condition progresses. You might be pleasantly surprised to notice an improvement.

Unless you suffer from a chronic pulmonary disease, bronchitis should only slow you down for a little while. Although no one likes to be sick, you must admit that some aches and pains are more benign than others, no matter how uncomfortable they are!

So hang in there, drink plenty of fluids and get some rest! You should feel better in no time!

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