In the case of antibiotics to treat pneumonia less is better according to a new study. For decades, the routine treatment of pneumonia has been the prescription of ‘big gun’ antibiotics in a shotgun approach to killing all possible bacteria.
So-called broad spectrum antibiotics, which can attack a wide range of bacterial types, are overkill. They not only bring additional drug side effects, but they result in forcing a wide range of bacteria to develop resistance.
As a consequence, some bugs that used to be killed off easily by simple penicillin are now resistant to every antibiotic we’ve got. People are now dying from common infections that would have been easily treatable 20 years ago.
Now some rational doctors are finally paying attention to World Health Organization (WHO) warnings about the dangers of antibiotic overuse. A recent study has shown that a return to basic antibiotic treatment is best.
In 166 cases of hospitalized patients with pneumonia due to Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, the patients were initially treated with broad spectrum antibiotics. Once the lab results came back showing the bugs were sensitive to penicillin, they stopped the big gun drugs and treated only with penicillin or amoxicillin. The patients recovered even faster and they had shorter hospital stays. They did not have any increased relapse rate or return trips to the hospital.
Tip for the Smart Consumer: Request to be treated with only the exact antibiotic that you need. If your doctor objects to this request then find another doctor pronto. Read more about the appropriate use of antibiotics in No-Nonsense Guide to Antibiotics: Dangers, Benefits, and Proper Use by Moira Dolan MD
Impact of antibiotic de-escalation on clinical outcomes in community-acquired pneumococcal pneumonia. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2016 Oct 20. pii: dkw441. By Viasus, D, et al.