Friday, January 22, 2016

Wheezing and antibiotics. Is it connected?

Children of preschool age who develop wheezing during viral respiratory illness are often diagnosed with Reactive Airway Disease and receive treatment with medications, usually inhaled to reduce inflammation and decrease the narrowing of the airways. Some parents demand antibiotics to treat viral illnesses of their children, thinking that it may shorten the duration of the illness or prevent complications and pediatricians sometimes comply, usually prescribing amoxicillin or something similar, just to keep parents happy.

It has been suggested several years ago that wheezing in some young children may, in fact, be associated with a specific bacteria. However, it was not clear what pediatricians should do about it.  Now pediatricians may have some clues. A small study published in December 2015 demonstrated a dramatic decrease in the duration of wheezing episodes in small children treated with antibiotic azithromycin.  

It is important to keep in mind that while both, azithromycin and amoxicillin are antibiotics, their chemical structure and effect on bacteria and the human body are very different, meaning that using any antibiotic to treat wheeze may do more harm than help.