Antibiotics Overuse Blamed On Rising Resistance in Treating Bronchitis

Latest reports indicate that it is becoming more challenging to treat bronchitis because antibiotics, a key treatment for the disease, are being overused.

Bronchitis is a common ailment that usually affects the lining of the bronchial tubes that serve as the passage of air in and out of the lungs. When the lining becomes inflamed, the victim will begin coughing continuously, there will be production of colored or thickened mucus, and the airways will become irritated. The symptoms will be most noticeable during the cold weather or early morning.

Once infected the membrane surrounding the air passages swell restricting the movement of air in and out of the lungs and may also shutoff the tiny airways. Usually for acute cases the symptoms usually wear off within days; however dealing with repeated cases such as chronic bronchitis becomes more problematic since the airways and lungs can become scarred.

AntibioticsThe first line of treating bronchitis is normally administering antibiotics, a trend that has been practiced for many decades. Antibiotics have proven to be effective since the disease is caused by the same virus that also causes flu and common cold.

A report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine sometime back indicated that antibiotics was a preferred choice for treating the disease but its use varied from one health giver to another. 10% of the health provider prescribed or administered antibiotics to at least 95% of their patients while on the other end 10% used the treatment for at less than 40% of the victims.

The differences in provision of antibiotics to the patients was influenced by different factors such as patient characteristics, clinical setting, standard practices at the hospital, nature of care(primary care, emergency department, urgent care) and more. And since there was no standard practice in administering antibiotics for bronchitis or in other related acute respiratory infections (ARI), there was a high chance of over usage.

Researchers from the University of Utah in collaboration with Veterans Affairs Health Care System Salt City have indicated that there is a surge in cases of the antibiotics being ineffective due to overuse. The antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" has the public as well as medical fraternity worried as cases of bronchitis continue to rise.

Barbara Jones, M.D., M.S., clinician at the VA City Health Care System Salt City and assistant professor of internal medicine, University of Utah, says that though the medical training on treatment is the same, the healthcare givers practice it differently. One doctor will use antibiotics on 90% of his patients while another will use it on only 40%.

Similar sentiments are supported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and unless the treatment of bronchitis whether acute or chronic is taken seriously, dealing with the situation may become problematic in the near future.