Doctors ‘wasting’ antibiotics on common cold

Doctors oversubscribing antibiotics to combat common cold

WITH THE WEATHER turning wintry, the common cold is setting in, but the latest report suggests doctors are over-prescribing antibiotics to combat coughs and colds.

Researchers who reviewed more than three million cases of common colds between 1991 and 2001 say many cases would have cleared up on their own, meaning the NHS is wasting millions on unnecessary treatments.

The study found that in 2000 antibiotics were still being prescribed to 67% of those with respiratory infections.

Excessive use of antibiotics can also cause harmful bacteria to develop resistance, making it more difficult to cure them.

Official guidance advises against antibiotic prescriptions for upper respiratory tract infections, sore throats and ear infections.

Professor Martyn Partridge, of the National Heart and Lung Institute, said there were three main dangers of the over-use of antibiotics: ‘The first is that the bacteria might get resistant,’ he said. ‘Antibiotics can also cause tummy upsets, which are avoidable if the drugs are not needed.’

He added: ‘And there is also the danger that good bacteria will be cleaned out by antibiotics, leaving the gut to be recolonised by nastier types.’

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