Anti-inflammatories and Antibiotics Not Effective for Cough Treatment

Published Online: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
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Treatment with oral anti-inflammatories or antibiotics failed to improve cough symptoms in patients with acute bronchitis compared with a placebo in a recent clinical trial conducted in Spain.

The study, published online on October 4, 2013, in BMJ, assessed the efficacy of oral anti-inflammatory or antibiotic treatment in patients aged 18 to 70 years presenting with a primary symptom of cough with additional respiratory tract infection symptoms across 9 primary care centers in Spain. Patients were randomly assigned to receive ibuprofen 600 mg, amoxicillin-clavulanic acid 500 mg/125 mg, or placebo 3 times a day for 10 days. Patients recorded their symptoms daily in a diary.

The results indicated that outcomes were not significantly different between therapies. On average, cough persisted for 9 days in patients taking ibuprofen and 11 days in patients taking placebo or amoxicillin-clavulanic acid. In addition, amoxicillin-clavulanic acid and ibuprofen did not increase the likelihood of cough resolution when compared with placebo. Adverse events occurred in 27 patients and occurred most often in antibiotic patients.

The authors conclude that anti-inflammatory or antibiotic treatment are not more effective than a placebo for treating cough in patients with uncomplicated acute bronchitis.

“These results have important implications for the daily clinical practice of doctors,” they write. 

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