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Antibiotics Not Needed for Runny Noses
Drs Neal Barry and Nicole Barry

Many patients are suffering from runny noses at this time of year, a new study suggests that doctors not prescribe antibiotics to help combat runny noses with colored discharge, countering common practice.

Their finding was based on data from seven carefully controlled trials comparing results when antibiotics were or were not given to people with severe head colds. The great majority of patients did not benefit from antibiotic treatment. And the side effects of antibiotic therapy in those patients included vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Such side effects occurred in only one of 78 patients in one study, but one in 12 patients in another study.

“Most patients will get better without antibiotics, supporting the 'no antibiotic as first line advice,'" two New Zealand researchers report in the July 22 issue of the British Medical Journal.

While antibiotics probably are effective for some cases of acute purulent rhinitis, as it is formally called, "they can cause harm, usually in the form of gastrointestinal effects," added Drs. Bruce Arroll and Timothy Kenealy, of the University of Auckland.

The researchers did not address the issue of overuse of antibiotics leading to growth of resistant strains of bacteria, but it is an important one. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2004 changed the labeling on antibiotics to warn doctors about the risk of resistant bacteria. This study "supports current practice guidelines that discourage use of antibiotics for purulent rhinitis of less than seven to 10 days.

Why don’t the antibiotics work?  "it is likely that the infection is viral rather than bacterial, and so antibiotics are unlikely to help."

If you, or a family member are suffering from a runny nose, make sure to follow these guidelines: wash your hands frequently, so as not to spread the germs; stay hydrated with water and hot teas; avoid alcohol; supplement your multivitamin with Zinc; most importantly have your spine checked to ensure that your nervous system is functioning at its highest level.

In This Issue:
Keep it Dark at Night
Down Syndrome Test Urged for Pregnant Women
Antibiotics Not Needed for Runny Nose
Recipe: Tomato Soup

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