Antibiotics found to be ineffective in treating childhood coughs, new study finds

Antibiotics are without a doubt one of the most commonly prescribed medications today. But are they always worth the risk? There are increasing concerns about antibiotic overuse, which extend all the way from the immediate health consequences (disrupting the balance of delicate intestinal microflora) to more broad concerns about the rise of drug-resistant bacteria.

It’s a story all too familiar: Parents take their sick child to the doctor and expect them to do something to make it better. But for childhood coughs and runny noses, are antibiotics always the answer? New research says that’s an emphatic no. While doling out medication may make parents feel better, it does little to actually heal the child in the long run.

Research shows antibiotics aren’t the best choice

In a systematic review of ten studies, scientists at Bandolier have determined that antibiotics used to treat childhood coughs offered no more relief to kids than placebo pills. The team commented, “There was no evidence that giving children antibiotics for uncomplicated upper respiratory tract infection has any value. Given the widespread concerns about antibiotic resistance, it probably does more harm than good.”

As Choosing Wisely explains, antibiotics may help children who are sick with bacterial infections. But when it comes to other types of illnesses, such as viruses, antibiotics are not effective. Most colds are caused by viruses — including chest colds like bronchitis and even sinus infections.

Thanks to modern medicine, many people are convinced that doling out medication is the answer to every health issue — whether its been proven to help or not. But sometimes, time and natural remedies to help relieve the symptoms of illness are really what’s best, and not another prescription.

The dangers of antibiotics

Antibiotics do have a place in medicine — but they’ve become so ubiquitous in our society that people hardly even regard them as a “medication.” It’s common to hear someone say, “Oh it’s just an antibiotic,” isn’t it? But these are actually powerful medications that are capable of long-reaching effects on your own immediate health and, when prescribed en mass as they are today, devastating effects on public health as a whole.

After taking antibiotics, it’s common to experience a number of side effects. The most common include digestive issues, such as upset stomachs like diarrhea and vomiting. This is thought to be due to the toxins antibiotics leave behind.

Some people are actually allergic to antibiotics, too. But the ill effects can extend even further — research has pointed to early childhood antibiotic use as a risk factor for obesity, for example.

But the risks of antibiotics don’t end with your own health: Mass overuse in both humans and livestock has been contributing to growing numbers of drug-resistant bacteria — and that is going to spell big trouble in the future. As Choosing Wisely explains:

Overusing antibiotics also encourages stronger bacteria to grow. The stronger bacteria do not respond to antibiotics. This means that the next time your child needs antibiotics for a bacterial infection, they will not work as well. This is sometimes called “antibiotic resistance.” The stronger bacteria can spread from your child to other family members and schoolmates, causing infections that are more difficult to cure and more costly to treat.

Currently, roughly 700,000 people are killed by drug-resistant infections every year. But estimates suggest that number will reach up to 10 million people annually by the year 2050, if current prescribing habits aren’t seriously revamped. In order to combat the spread of antibiotic resistance, reducing antibiotic prescriptions is key. Choosing alternative medicines and therapies could become vital for healthcare in the very near future.

Learn more about keeping illnesses at bay the natural way at

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