Skip to comments.When you cough up green or yellow phlegm you need to be prescribed antibiotics, right?
Posted on 03/24/2011 6:30:18 AM PDT by decimon
Prescribing antibiotics for patients with discoloured phlegm caused by acute cough has little or no effect on alleviating symptoms and recovery, a Cardiff University study has found.
Acute cough is one of the common reasons why people visit their GP and accounts for a large proportion of antibiotics prescribed in the community. One of the most common questions asked by GPs to their patients is about their phlegm: "Are you coughing anything up?" or "What colour is your phlegm?"
Clinicians and patients commonly believe that yellow and green phlegm production is associated with a bacterial infection, which is more likely to benefit from antibiotic treatment compared to non-productive cough or cough that produces clear phlegm.
However, in a new study published in the European Respiratory Journal, Professor Chris Butler and his team from Cardiff University's School of Medicine, together with colleagues from 14 European centres present data from an observational study of 3402 adult patients with acute cough presenting for health care in 14 primary care networks.
The research found that patients producing discoloured phlegm are prescribed antibiotics more frequently than those not producing phlegm unlike those producing clear/white phlegm.
Crucially, antibiotic treatment was not associated with greater rate or magnitude of symptoms score resolution among those who produced yellow or green phlegm. Neither was recovery among those feeling generally unwell on its own, or taken together with phlegm production, associated with antibiotic treatment.
Clinicians and patients are therefore likely to both be over interpreting the importance of the colour of phlegm in the decision whether or not to prescribe, or take, antibiotics.
Professor Butler, who led the study said: "One of the exciting things about this research is that our findings from this large, multi-country observational study resonate with findings from randomised trials where benefit from antibiotic treatment in those producing discoloured phlegm has been found to be marginal at best or non-existent.
"Our findings add weight to the message that acute cough in otherwise well adults is a self-limiting condition and antibiotic treatment does not speed recovery to any meaningful extent.
"In fact, antibiotic prescribing in this situation simply unnecessarily exposes people to side effects from antibiotics, undermines future self care, and drives up antibiotic resistance."
A single centre study, using different research methods, by one of Professor Butler's predecessors at Cardiff University came to similar conclusions to this new research. Despite this, non-evidence based practice remains common across the UK.
Q: What’s green and carries a rifle?
A: Mucus McCain
I believe the antibiotic is to lessen the chances of Pneumonia....which will kill you.
This could be good science. But it sure feels like cost cutting.
Since I started using the Walmart generic equivalent of PLAX (anti-plaque dental rinse) two things have happened.
(1) The dental hygienist says I have the cleanest teeth she has ever seen.
(2) I don't get sinus infections any more.
Just an observation.
"unless you've been eating lime jello with bananas in it...go with the antibiotics
Q: What’s green and figure skates?
A: Peggy Phlegm.
Christopher Plummer once unaffectionally called his 1965 movie- “The Sound of Mucus”...
If your illness is bacterial in origin, the antibiotics may work. If it’s viral, you’re wasting your time.
When I urinate, I see lots of healthy, bright red blood.
Guess this makes sense but I coughed clear phlegm for a couple of weeks and it turned into pneumonia a few years back. High fever, the whole nine yards. Lasted over a month. Felt like I was going to die. Didn’t go to the doctor until I was able to drive. He thought I was rather lucky. Haven’t been sick since.
Green, yellow or clear, go see a Doc if it persists!
This is hardly anything new, for the past 50 years we’ve been told antibiotics do nothing for colds and the associated productive or not coughs but too often doctors still will prescribe them as a “precautionary” treatment.
So now we have super bacteria that exhibit resistance to most antibiotics. Brilliant!
Q: What’s long, green and yellow and hangs from banana trees?
A: Elephant snot.
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