CLEVELAND, Ohio-- Every parent has struggled with a sick child's lingering cough or painful ears during cold season and wondered: Does he need an antibiotic? Most people have asked the same question about their own symptoms at one time or another. Wouldn't this hacking cough, this sinus pain, this earache go away more quickly if I took the drug?
Most of the time, the answer is no. Recent research on ear infections, bronchitis and sinus infections suggests that antibiotics are unhelpful in the majority of cases, and may in fact do more harm than good.
Yet many people still demand the drugs for their children and for themselves, and many doctors willingly oblige.
Is It Necessary?
One of a series of occasional features examining commonly accepted medical practices and procedures.
The result: nothing short of a national and global public health crisis. In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of another type of "nightmare" multidrug-resistant bacteria that traveled from a single health care facility to others in at least 42 states and doesn't respond to available antibiotics. Two years ago, a similar superbug killed 12 people after striking a National Institutes of Health health care center.