Do older/younger people or people with other infections need antibiotics for a cough?

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Antibiotics for acute bronchitis (Cochrane Review)

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Do older/younger people or people with other infections need antibiotics for a cough?

People with weaker immune systems e.g. the elderly, young or those with other illnesses may be more susceptible to getting infections that cause coughing. However, this does not necessarily mean that they should take antibiotics. If the infection is viral then antibiotics will not help to treat it. Antibiotics can sometimes help people who suffer from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and have severe exacerbations. However, it is difficult to know whether the exacerbations are caused by bacterial or viral infections so it is best that you discuss this with your doctor. See the Prodigy website for more details. Children do not usually need to take antibiotics for coughs. See the Bandolier article for more details. Asthma can be a cause of a cough but if you are asthmatic and your cough is affecting your asthma you should discuss this with your doctor.

Related Resources
Over-the-counter medications for acute cough in children and adults in ambulatory settings (Cochrane Review)
Quantitative systematic review of randomised controlled trials comparing antibiotic with placebo for acute cough in adults
Systematic review of the treatment of upper respiratory tract infection
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Antibiotics for childhood coughs
Prodigy Guidance - Chest Infections
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Antibiotic prescribing and admissions with major suppurative complications of respiratory tract infections: a data linkage study
Prophylactic antibiotic therapy for chronic bronchitis (Cochrane Review)
Antibiotics for acute bronchitis (Cochrane Review)

Date of Posting: 21/06/2004
Date of next Review: 21/06/2005

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MeSH keywords:
Cough; Pulmonary disease, Chronic obstructive; Antibiotics; Elderly; Child; Infant; Asthma

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