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Physicians prescribe useless antibiotics to acute bronchitis patients 70 percent of the time


(NaturalNews) Adding to the growing antibiotic resistance epidemic is the longtime practice among conventional doctors of prescribing antibiotics for acute bronchitis, a viral disease that does not even respond to the drugs. A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reveals that physicians routinely prescribe antibiotics for acute bronchitis up to 80 percent of the time, even though that rate should be zero percent, based on the science.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), acute bronchitis is almost always caused by a virus, not bacteria. As evidenced by its name, the class of drugs known as antibiotics only targets bacteria, inadvertently killing off beneficial bacteria in the process. As a result, bronchial patients who receive the drug not only derive no health benefit whatsoever, but are also potentially harmed in the process.

For their study, Michael L. Barnett, M.D., and his colleagues from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston evaluated a group of adults aged 18 to 64 years. Each of the individuals involved had visited a general care physician, a general medicine clinic, or an emergency room between 1996 and 2010 for some diagnosis of acute bronchitis. Patients also admitted for other conditions such as chronic pulmonary disease and cancer were excluded in order to obtain the most accurate results.

After refining the pool, 3,153 hospital and doctor visits were included as part of the evaluation, revealing a shocking number of antibiotic prescriptions. The overall prescription rate, according to the data, was 71 percent, and this percentage actually increased during the course of the study period. Prescriptions for one type of antibiotic, macrolide, jumped from 25 percent of visits between 1996 and 1998 to 41 percent between 2008 and 2010. Other antibiotics were prescribed at 35 percent of visits.

CDC has been telling doctors for more than a decade to stop prescribing antibiotics for bronchitis, to no avail

The CDC has been warning doctors to stop prescribing antibiotics for acute bronchitis for more than 15 years, and yet the vast majority of them are still mistakenly dispensing the drugs, presumably out of habit. As a result, antibiotic resistance for conditions that otherwise would respond to the treatment has only worsened, creating an epidemic of "superbugs" with no pharmaceutical-based cure.

"Avoidance of antibiotic overuse for acute bronchitis should be a cornerstone of quality healthcare," wrote the authors in their paper. "Physicians, health systems, payers, and patients should collaborate to create more accountability and decrease antibiotic overuse."

The word overuse, however, is technically inaccurate with regards to acute bronchitis. CDC datasets show that the prescribing rate of antibiotics for acute bronchitis should be zero because viruses are not affected by antibiotics. If the agency was doing its job properly, it would seek to outlaw the prescription of antibiotics for viral conditions entirely.

"You have a viral infection for which the antibiotics are not going to help, and you're putting a chemical in your body that has a very real chance of hurting you," says Dr. Jeffrey A. Linder, another of the study's authors, as quoted by CNN. "People may have infections that are harder to treat down the line because we're overusing antibiotics today."

A preview of the study is available for viewing here:

Sources for this article include:




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