Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fears About Complications Shouldn't Drive Antibiotic Prescribing, Study Finds

Date:
October 29, 2007
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
Antibiotics are not justified to reduce the risk of complications after upper respiratory tract infection, sore throat, or ear infection, finds a study published on the British Medical Journal web site.

Antibiotics are not justified to reduce the risk of complications after upper respiratory tract infection, sore throat, or ear infection, finds a study published on bmj.com, the web site of the British Medical Journal.

But they do substantially cut the risk of pneumonia after chest infection, particularly in elderly people.

Most antibiotic prescribing is in primary care, and most of it is for common respiratory tract infections. Guidelines advise against the routine use of antibiotics in patients with upper respiratory tract infection, sore throat, and ear infection, but do recommend them for pneumonia.

Although rates of antibiotic prescribing for acute respiratory infections in UK general practice declined by 45% between 1994 and 2000, in 2000 antibiotics were still prescribed to 67% of patients with respiratory infection, including over 90% of those with chest infection, 80% with ear infections, 60% with sore throat, and 47% with upper respiratory tract infections.

On the basis of the evidence in this BMJ study, there seems to be a substantial gap between evidence based guidance and general practitioners' prescribing behaviour, say the authors.

So, they identified 3.36 million episodes of respiratory tract infection recorded between 1991 and 2001 in the UK General Practice Research Database and determined whether complications were less common in people who were prescribed antibiotics than in those who were not.

Risk of serious complications in the month after diagnosis were recorded: mastoiditis (infection of the mastoid bone of the skull) after ear infection, quinsy (an abscess at the back of the throat) after sore throat, and pneumonia after upper respiratory tract infection and chest infection.

The number of patients needed to treat to prevent one complication was also recorded.

Serious complications were rare after upper respiratory tract infections, sore throat, and ear infection. Antibiotics reduced the risk, but over 4,000 courses were needed to prevent one complication.

In contrast, the risk of pneumonia after chest infection was high, particularly in elderly people, and was substantially reduced by antibiotic use. The number needed to treat to prevent one case of pneumonia was 39 for those aged 65 and over and between 96 and 119 in younger age groups.

The risks were not appreciably different in smokers, those with chronic respiratory disease, or those with cardiac disease.

The authors conclude that general practitioners should not base their prescribing for sore throat, ear infection, or upper respiratory tract infections on a fear of serious complications. However, antibiotic prescribing to reduce the risk of pneumonia after chest infection is justifiable, particularly in elderly patients in whom the risk is highest.

This view is reiterated in an accompanying BMJ editorial by researchers at the University of Antwerp, who say that most infections can be managed by watchful waiting.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Fears About Complications Shouldn't Drive Antibiotic Prescribing, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 October 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071018171440.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2007, October 29). Fears About Complications Shouldn't Drive Antibiotic Prescribing, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071018171440.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Fears About Complications Shouldn't Drive Antibiotic Prescribing, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071018171440.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins