Antibiotics Ineffective At Treating Common Cold Coughs
October 23, 2012

Antibiotics Alone Are Less Effective For Treating Cough In Children

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

Parents who see their children suffering from a cough will alert the doctor and request that their child receives medication. However, a new study presented at the annual meet of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) found that antibiotics are not strong enough to treat coughs as a result of the common cold found in children.

The meeting, titled CHEST 2012, showcased how antibiotics alone do not work effectively in changing cough resolutions for children.

"In our experience, antibiotics are often prescribed by the general practitioner to treat cough in children, many times to pacify parents," explained the study´s lead author Dr. Francesco de Blasio, a representative of the Clinic Center Private Hospital in Naples, Italy, in a prepared statement. "However, antibiotics show very little effectiveness at treating cough due to your average head cold."

The researchers observed the impact of treatment on 305 children who needed pediatric consultation as a result of an acute cough that was related to the common cold. From all the participants, 89 received antibiotics, 38 received a mix of antibiotics with antitussives, 55 children did not receive any antibiotics. Of those various cases, 16 participants obtained codeine and cloperastine, 22 children received levodropropizine, 44 received only central antitussives, and 79 children received only peripheral antitussives.

Based on the results of the study, there was no change in cough resolution. On the other hand, children who were treated with only antibiotics had a lower likelihood of cough resolution than children who received only antitussive. The results from the study correlate with guidelines provided by the American College of Chest Physicians, which were published in the journal CHEST in 2006.

"Few drugs are effective as cough suppressants, and antibiotics are no more effective in relieving cough than the use of no medication," continued de Blasio in the statement. "However, peripheral antitussives, such as levodropropizine, appear to be the best option at relieving cough."

Antibiotics may not be incredibly effective in treating the cough, but they can be helpful in limiting the infections that may be related to the cough.

"Using antibiotics as a treatment for cough without suspected infection is unnecessary and can be harmful," remarked Dr. de Blasio in the statement. "Repeated use of antibiotics, especially when they are ineffective, can lead to adverse allergic reactions or a resistance to the medications."

In closing, the researchers recommended that antibiotics not be overused by parents who may be concerned about their child´s health.

"As parents, it is difficult to watch our children suffering from a terrible cough, but turning to antibiotics is not always the answer," concluded Dr. Darcy D. Marciniuk, ACCP President-Elect, in the statement. "Depending on the underlying cause of the cough, a health-care professional can recommend the best treatment options for a child, which, in some cases, may be no treatment."