ANTIBIOTICS can halve the risk of a sore throat becoming something much worse but there is no harm in waiting first to see if it will get better by itself, newly published research has found.
The research, published in the authoritative Lancet Medical Journal and led by British Professor Paul Little, concluded that antibiotics could reduce the risk of complications of a sore throat, like sinusitis and middle ear infection by half.
Researchers however warned that in most cases, no antibiotics were needed to cure a sore throat.
The over-prescription of antibiotics has led to what leading South African microbiologist Dr Adrian Brink called “disturbing” levels of antibiotic resistance under patients in the private sector in the first study of its kind published in the South African Medical Journal.
According to Little’s research there is no harm in patients waiting and seeing if they got better first without antibiotics. Little found that antibiotics prescribed immediately and the same medicine prescribed only when a patient did not get any better were likely to provide similar benefits.
In their research, 12829 adults with sore throats lasting longer than two weeks were observed.
Researchers then noted what medicines were given to patients.
Some were not given antibiotics, some were immediately given antibiotic prescription and others were only given antibiotics after not getting better.
In 4805 of the cases observed no antibiotics were prescribed, in 6088 of cases antibiotics were prescribed immediately, and 1784 were prescribed antibiotics after not getting better.
They found that 164 patients who were not on antibiotics developed complications of which middle ear infection and sinusitis were the most common.
Patients who were using antibiotics, either immediately or after not getting better, however developed fewer complications. – Estelle Ellis