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Antibiotics Ineffective for Cough Symptoms?

Ever had one of those nasty coughs that just wouldn't go away, even when your doctor put you on antibiotics? Here's a possible reason why: A review of nine previous studies found that antibiotics were no better than placebos at improving cough symptoms.

(A placebo contains no medication, and is given to selected patients to compare results with other patients who are given some form of medication.)

According to this study, if 100 people suffering from acute cough are placed on antibiotics, nine will report an improvement after 7-11 days, while 84 will not be significantly affected or improved by antibiotic treatment. The remaining seven will not show substantial improvement in symptoms, and will experience side effects from the antibiotic.

Talk to your doctor about the benefits and side effects of antibiotics and other prescription medications. Zinc lozenges or other natural nutritional supplements may do a better job of relieving your cough symptoms than the antibiotics which are commonly prescribed.


Fahey T. Quantitative systematic review of randomised controlled trials comparing antibiotic with placebo for acute cough in adults. British Medical Journal, March 21, 1998, vol.316/no. 7135, pp906-10.

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