Sniffs and snorts, are out?

Published: Thursday 15 August 1996

For those who are tired of battling it out with colds, this may come as a relief. A study published in the Lancet says that 20 per cent of the people suffering from cold could benefit by taking antibiotics. Although common cold is actually caused by a class of virus that does not respond to antibiotics, nasal secretions do show the presence of some bacteria such as Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae , which lead to respiratory diseases and can be controlled by taking antibiotics.

Researchers at the University Hospital of Geneva, Switzerland, took nasal swabs from 300 patients exhibiting typical symptoms of cold. The results of the study showed that 61 patients carried bacterial infections.

The treatment of the patients with bacterial infection, through antibiotics, was ten times more effective than for placebos. However, the researchers have issued warnings against the indiscriminate use of antibiotics. ( New Scientist , Vol 150, No 2033).

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