According to two major US medical authorities: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American College of Physicians (ACP) doctors should avoid prescribing antibodies to patients with common cold. The Acute Respiratory Tract ARTIs such as the common cold, sore throat, bronchitis, and sinus infection are the biggest reasons for antibiotic prescriptions in the US. But the inappropriate use of antibiotics using pill reminder app for ARTIs causes the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria – a type which affects over 2 million people and causes at least 23,000 deaths in the country every year.
Antibiotics Involve Massive Costs
As mentioned above, ARTIs are the most common reason of patients visiting specialists. The data from CDC shows that 50% of prescriptions for antibiotics were either inappropriate or unnecessary.
Besides, the cost of those prescriptions goes over $3 billion – but that is just the basic cost. And then there are knock-on effects.
For example, antibiotics are the biggest reason of drug-related issues. They are likewise responsible of around 20% of emergency visits due to medicine reactions. Therefore, healthcare specialists suggest doctors to not prescribe antibiotics for minor infections.
Rather, they advise specialists to educate patients on cold symptoms and tell them to wait for a couple of weeks before making the visit. However, if the cold lasts longer or becomes worse, then they should start taking medications.
Specialists should likewise explain that antibiotics are a bit much – and may even result in side effects. Additionally, they should tell patients about the upsides and downsides of taking prescriptions to relieve infections. Doing so will enable patients to determine by themselves as to when the medication is needed and when it is not.
Not Necessary Unless Complications Arise
The healthcare authorities also cover how to tackle different infections without taking antibiotics, unless the infection is severe. These include minor bronchitis, sore throat, and mild sinus infection.
For example, uncomplicated bronchitis doesn’t require any prescription medications unless pneumonia is suspected. Medicines that can bring symptomatic relief include antihistamines, beta-agonists, cough suppressants etc.
In case of a sore throat, specialists should explain that it typically lasts for less than 7 days and generally doesn’t require antibiotics as they have a very little impact and bring side effects. To ease the pain, specialists should suggest patients take analgesics, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, etc.
In case the doctors suspect the patient has a severe infection and positive tests for the infection, only then they should recommend antibiotics.
Also, to patients with uncomplicated sinus, doctors should tell that they will get better without antibiotics, even if the infection is because of bacteria. Most patients can improve with simple medications such as aspirin. Doctors should also inform patients that the risks that come with taking antibiotics completely outweigh benefits. So, it’s never the right decision to go for medical treatment for minor illness.
However, in case of severe illness or persistent infections, taking antibiotics using a pill tracker app is not so bad.
Doctors Should Use Symptomatic Prescription Pad
The doctors should also make more utilization of the “symptomatic prescription pads” such as the CDC’s Viral Illnesses Prescription Pad. An example can be found on healthcare professionals page of CDC’s Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work website.
The pad carries a checklist for specialists to fill in and advise patients on what they can do to relieve side effects of the viral ailments they have been diagnosed with – for instance, a cold, cough or a sore throat. The doctor ticks the appropriate options and gives the “medicine” to the patient.
In case the prescription is not needed, the symptomatic prescription will state:
“You have been diagnosed with an illness caused by a virus. Antibiotics do not cure viral infections. If given when not needed, antibiotics can be harmful. The treatments prescribed below will help you feel better while your body’s own defenses are fighting the virus.”
The prescription also includes various options for relief such as: drink additional water, take juices, use a nasal spray to diminish clog, and use ice chips and capsules for a sore throat.
Moreover, there is an area where the specialist can list specific relief medications and an end section that invites the patient to return inside a predetermined number of days if symptoms persist or become worse, after which the choice of prescription can be reviewed. You can use a medication reminder app to avoid missing out on doctor appointment.
According to specialists, reducing antibiotics abuse in adults with ARTIs should be a clinical priority if we want to improve the quality of healthcare care, lower the cost of healthcare and control the increase in antibiotics resistance.
Then, in the race against time to discover new antimicrobial medications, researchers are turning to drugs effectively approved for different treatments. An example of this is from 2015 when a group from the University of Illinois announced discovering antibiotic properties in a group of anti-parasitic medications known as uncouplers.