Antibiotic treatment does not help sore throat

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Antibiotic treatment does not help sore throat

The scenario takes place every day all over the world. A person with a sore throat goes to a medical doctor. After the pre-requisite command for the patient to "say aah" while the doctor peers down a red, irritated throat, he or she hands over a prescription for penicillin or some other antibiotic.

That may be the worst thing the doctor can do, according to a new research study published in the British Medical Journal. Prescribing antibiotics for sore throat has only marginal benefit and makes the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria even greater.

In a randomized trial of three approaches to sore throat -- a 10 day prescription of antibiotics, no antibiotics, and a delayed prescription if the sore throat had not begun to improve after three days -- the authors found there was no difference between the three groups in the incidence of complications.

Partly because of air pollution and other environmental factors, respiratory conditions have increased greatly in recent years and more people are trying to find medical solutions to the problem. In fact, in Britain, the number of people visiting doctors because of sore throats and related health complaints has increased by 14% in 10 years.

Yet, there's nothing medical doctors can do that the human body can't do by itself, given time. According to the researchers, the average duration of a sore throat is five days and almost 40% of people have a sore throat for longer than this -- with or without antibiotics.

The unnecessary use of antibiotics in recent years, however, has given rise to a breed of "superbacteria" which are resistant to the drugs, and can weaken the normal immune system. The World Health Organization has stated that this abuse of antibiotics has been a factor in world-wide epidemics of diseases such as Ebola and AIDS.

SOURCE: British Medical Journal, No 7104 Volume 315, August 9, 1997.

The Chiropractic Journal.

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