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Video: Cough Treatment: Honey Should Be Tried Before Antibiotics
Cough treatment: honey should be tried before antibiotics
Antibiotics will not help with coughs in most cases, but according to statistics, a huge number of doctors continue to prescribe them. Experts remind that antibiotic resistance is a huge problem, and measures must be taken to reduce their use.
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Honey and over-the-counter drugs, not antibiotics, should be the first line of treatment for cough, according to a new draft guidelines for physicians NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence - National Institute for Health and Improvement) and PHE (Public Health England). These guidelines are intended to help address the problem of antibiotic resistance (resistance).
Coughs are often caused by viruses that cannot be treated with antibiotics. In most cases, the condition improves and the cough goes away on its own within two to three weeks. However, previous studies indicate that 48% of British general practitioners prescribe antibiotics for cough or bronchitis.
Dr. TessaLewis, General Practitioner and Chair of the NICE Antimicrobial Prescribing Guidelines Group, explained: “If someone has a runny nose, sore throat and cough, we expect the cough to go away in 2-3 weeks. and antibiotics will not be needed … If the cough gets worse, not better, or the person feels very unwell, or suffocating, then you will need to contact your doctor."
The reasons for not prescribing an antibiotic should be clearly explained by the healthcare professional and the patient should be counseled on appropriate self-care.
Hot drink with honey, lemon and ginger is a well-known home remedy for coughs and sore throats. Honey and cough medicines containing pelargonium, guaifenesin, or dextromethorphan may help relieve symptoms, but honey should not be given to babies under one year old as it sometimes contains bacteria that cause botulism in babies.
Overuse of antibiotics complicates the treatment of infections by creating drug-resistant superbugs.
Dr. Susan Hopkins, PHE's Associate Director of Antimicrobial Resistance and Related Medical Infections, said, “Antibiotic resistance is a huge problem and we need to take action to reduce antibiotic use. Taking antibiotics when you don't need them puts you and your family at risk of developing infections, which in turn cannot be easily treated. These new guidelines will support general practitioners in reducing antibiotic prescriptions, and we urge patients to accept the recommendations of general practitioners for self-help.”
An antibiotic may be needed if an acute cough is part of a more serious underlying medical condition or if there is a risk of additional complications, such as lung disease, immunosuppression, or cystic fibrosis. Clear information about the most appropriate choice of antibiotic and the duration of the course is also set out in the new guidelines.
Professor Mark Baker, director of the Center for Guidelines at NICE, said: “We want to emphasize that in most cases antibiotics are not needed to treat cough. We want people to be offered counseling on alternatives that can help relieve their symptoms. When prescribing antibiotics, it is important to consider the patient benefits and broader consequences of antimicrobial resistance by offering them to people who really need them. This guide provides healthcare professionals and patients with the information they need to make the right choices regarding antibiotic use. We only encourage their use when the person has other complications.”
England's chief physician, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has previously warned of a "post-antibiotic apocalypse." If the medication fails, it will make it harder to treat infections and make cancer treatments and transplants too risky.