Short courses of antibiotics might be better

As I’ve indicated in Immune Apocalypse within the next twenty years antibiotic resistance and the inability of antibiotics to neutralise lethal bacteria is set to become the third largest cause of disease related death on the planet.  Despite my preference for utilising antibiotics sparingly and only when appropriate I have to regularly deal with patient demands for antibiotic prescriptions and often for extended periods of time.  It’s as if their lives are suspended precipitously in a bottomless antibiotic void which can only be assuaged once they are rescued by these seemingly life-sustaining medications.

 Now research suggests that short courses of antibiotics are just as effective, cause far fewer side effects and lead to a much lower incidence of antibiotic resistance.  For example, to treat pneumonia and urinary tract infections courses of 3-5 days work just as well as a two-week long stretch.   Short courses of antibiotic also wreak far less havoc with our microbiome, the natural distribution of microbes that exist within our bodies and on our skin.

  For the most part as I’ve shown most coughs, colds, ear infections and sore throats are triggered by viruses for which antibiotics are an unsuitable treatment.   If we are going to use antibiotics we need to deploy them judiciously and only for a limited period of time during which they can achieve a maximal response.  

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