Antibiotics useless for colds, report says

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Antibiotics useless for colds, report says

Recently, doctors -- and patients -- were provided with still more evidence that antibiotics are being grossly over-used, and often for the wrong reasons.

A report in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology again gave evidence that the use of antibiotics as a "cure" or treatment for the common cold is completely ineffective.

Colds are almost always sparked by viruses, and antibiotics have absolutely no positive affect on them. The drugs can only impact bacteria, which seldom play a part in colds.

Researchers admitted that the study didn't discover anything new, but rather served to reinforce information which has been available, although ignored, for years.

"These findings are consistent with our recommendations that antibiotics not be used to treat common cold symptoms," said Stuart Levy, president of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). "Almost all cases of the common cold are caused by viruses and antibiotics do not work on viral infections."

That hasn't stopped doctors from prescribing them, however, and the ASM estimates that about 60% of all colds are treated with antibiotics -- at a cost of some $37.5 million per year in the U.S. alone.

Only seven out of 200 people studied during the research project actually had signs of bacterial infection.

"Bacterial infections were rare, supporting the concept that the common cold is almost exclusively a viral disease," stated the researchers.

"...Antibiotic treatment is not necessary in otherwise healthy young adults with common colds," they concluded.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Microbiology, February 4, 1998;36:539-542.

The Chiropractic Journal.

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