There are both pros and cons to using antibiotics for bronchitis. As far as the pros are concerned, taking antibiotics for bronchitis can lead to the defeat of bacteria that have caused the infection and may even help ward off complications, such as pneumonia, in those who are prone to them. On the other hand, the cons also bear serious consideration. For starters, most cases of bronchitis are caused by viruses, which means taking antibiotics won't treat the illness. Additionally, taking antibiotics when they aren’t warranted may contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The primary benefit of taking antibiotics for bronchitis is the potential for successful treatment. When bronchitis develops because of bacteria, a person’s immune system may have difficulty fighting it or he may remain ill longer than expected. In such a case, a doctor may recommend that the patient take a course of antibiotics in order to fight the bacterial infection and feel better more quickly. It is important to note that some people start to feel better before they have finished a course of antibiotics. Patients must take all of the medication their doctors prescribed, however, in order to avoid allowing the bacteria to take control once more.
Antibiotics may also prove important in treating bronchitis when a person is prone to complications of respiratory infections. For example, a person who has a chronic condition that affects the lungs or the immune system may sometimes need antibiotic treatment in order to prevent complications of bronchitis. For instance, a doctor may recommend antibiotics to prevent the development of pneumonia in a person who is particularly vulnerable to it.
In many cases, the cons of taking antibiotics for bronchitis are more relevant for the average patient than the pros. This is due to the fact that most cases of bronchitis develop because of viruses. As such, antibiotics are ineffective for treating most cases of bronchitis because they cannot fight viruses. Sometimes, however, doctors do prescribe antibiotics for cases of bronchitis, even if they are not sure an infection developed because of bacteria. This is troublesome, as taking antibiotics unnecessarily contributes to the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Even when a person does need antibiotics for bronchitis, there some factors to take into consideration. For example, antibiotics may cause unpleasant side effects; some people experience nausea and diarrhea while they are taking antibiotics. Some women also develop yeast infections in relation to antibiotic use.