Antibiotics and colds:
Antibiotics are ineffective against the viruses that cause the runny nose, cough and other symptoms of the common cold. A new study, however, found that nearly half of adults and one-third of parents of children with cold symptoms wanted a prescription for antibiotics to manage the symptoms.
The researchers interviewed 249 parents and 256 other adults who had contacted primary care clinics seeking relief from cold symptoms.
Although those who asked for antibiotics and those who did not had the same symptoms, the adults or parents who requested prescriptions more often thought the symptoms were severe or had gone on too long.
Most people in the study correctly responded that colds improved on their own. Still, only 43 percent were aware that viruses, not bacteria, cause colds, according to the study published in the July issue of the Archives of Family Medicine.
The improper use of antibiotics can lead to the development of "superbugs" that are resistant to all but the strongest antibiotic measures. According to a 1998 report by the Institute of Medicine, up to 50 percent of antibiotics are prescribed unnecessarily. Many patients compound the problem by not taking their prescribed course of antibiotics, allowing the surviving bacteria to thrive.