Two physician researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine recently surveyed world literature on bronchitis, which included research studies, clinical trials and anything related to bronchitis and its treatment, and concluded that antibiotics should generally be avoided with bronchitis cases.
Dr. Richard P. Wenzel -- one of the authors of the report -- stated that "Physicians should be encouraged to avoid antibiotics in most cases." The findings by Dr. Wenzel will be published in the Nov. 16 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Dr. Wenzel added that antibiotics being prescribed for bronchitis patients is overdone due to trying to treat the issue which "are caused by agents for which we have no therapy yet," meaning viruses. Bronchitis is characterized by an inflammation of the bronchial airway.
Only a very small percentage of all bronchitis cases can be treated by doctors, but Dr. Wenzel estimates that 70 to 80 percent of bronchitis patients are given a course of antibiotics lasting five to 10 days.
One of every 20 American adults will get bronchitis in a given year according to Dr. Wenzel. He went on to say that an initial reason that bronchitis sufferers didn't take antibiotics is because they cost money. Wenzel added that "all antibiotics have side effects, such as rash, diarrhea and abdominal pain," saying that side effects are acceptable only when a medication helps the patient.
Since there are multiple arguments against taking antibiotics when suffering from bronchitis, why do doctors still write those prescriptions? According to Dr. Wenzel, the primary reason is convenience. "Think of all the patients we have to move through the office … I could take 15 minutes to explain why an antibiotic is not needed or write a prescription in 30 seconds."