Shorter use of antibiotics for otitis media does not lead to less resistance
Acute otitis media is an extremely painful and uncomfortable disease. Children are often affected by this disease. Antibiotics are usually necessary to avoid possible complications and consequential damage. But this leads to increased antibiotic resistance. For this reason, doctors try to keep the duration of the treatment as short as possible. But researchers have now found that using antibiotics for a shorter period of time is less effective, but it does not result in less resistance.
Scientists at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh found in a study that shorter antibiotic use in children makes the treatment of acute otitis media less effective, but does not result in reduced antibiotic resistance or fewer side effects. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "New England Journal of Medicine".
Experts are looking for ways to reduce antibiotic treatment times
Researchers around the world have long been looking for ways to avoid the unnecessary use of antibiotics. For this reason, experts are trying to reduce the duration of antibiotic treatment for some common infections. The aim is to prevent the development of resistance to antibiotics.
Doctors examine 520 children with otitis media
The current study included 520 children between the ages of 6 and 23 months. Acute otitis media was diagnosed in all children, the authors say. This type of illness is particularly common in young children.
Subjects were divided into two groups
Half of the children examined received the antibiotic amoxicillin clavulanate for ten days. The other half of the subjects received the drug for five days and a placebo for another five days, the scientists explain. The parents did not know what type of treatment individual children received.
Doctors repeatedly test subjects for resistant bacteria
The severity of symptoms was monitored in the participating children. The subjects had to make regular visits to the doctor to have their health examined, the doctors say. In the event of illnesses, additional doctor visits were necessary. In this context, the researchers also checked whether resistant bacteria could be found in the children.
Taking antibiotics for short leads to more unsuccessful treatments
The doctors found that treatment with 34 percent of the children with shorter antibiotics was unsuccessful. In children with a longer treatment period with antibiotics, the value was only 16 percent. The symptoms of the disease were also more pronounced in the group with the shorter treatment regimen, the experts add. There was also no difference between the two groups when it came to the rate of colonization with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Side effects are not less with shorter antibiotics
The results were a surprise, says the author Dr. Alejandro Hoberman from Children's’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. “I was expecting shorter antibiotic use to have fewer side effects. But the rates of diarrhea and diaper rash (typical side effects of antibiotics) were similar in both groups, ”added the expert.
More research is needed
However, the results of the study should not be generalized if the victims are children over the age of two or adults, the authors of the study explain. The idea of shortening the optimal dose of antibiotics in some contexts made a lot of sense. However, further research remains essential for this. This is the only way to determine the optimal duration of therapy, the experts say.
Antibiotic use should be limited to bacterial infections
Another principle of the strategy is to limit the use of antibiotics to bacterial infections. Parents often come to the doctor if their children suffer from upper respiratory infections. But most of these diseases are caused by a virus. With this form of the disease, taking antibiotics is not helpful, the scientists explain.
Antibiotics must be used correctly
Antibiotics can be life-saving if the drug is used properly. But any use of antibiotics carries an additional risk of developing antibiotic resistance, the researchers conclude. (as)