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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2000;(2):CD000247.

Antibiotics for the common cold.

Author information

1
General Practice, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand. b.arroll@auckland.ac.nz

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The common cold is caused by viruses which cannot be helped by antibiotics.

OBJECTIVES:

The objective of this review was to assess the effects of antibiotics for the common cold.

SEARCH STRATEGY:

We searched the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Family Medicine Database, and reference lists of articles, and we contacted principal investigators. The most recent search was in December 1998.

SELECTION CRITERIA:

Randomised trials comparing any antibiotic therapy with placebo in acute upper respiratory tract infections.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS:

Both reviewers independently assessed trial quality and extracted data.

MAIN RESULTS:

Main results: Seven trials involving 2056 people aged between six months and 49 years were included. The overall quality of the included trials was variable. People receiving antibiotics did not do better in terms of cure or improvement than those on placebo (odds ratio 0.95, 95% confidence interval 0.70 to 1.28 fixed effects model). One study found a significant benefit for antibiotics compared with placebo for runny nose (clear or purulent). The only other study to evaluate purulent nasal discharge found no significant benefit for antibiotics. Only one study reported work time lost with 22% of those on antibiotic treatment and 25% of those on placebo but this was not significant. Patients treated with antibiotics had a significant increase in side effects (odds ratio 2.72, 95% confidence interval 1.02 to 7.27, random effects model).

REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS:

REVIEWERS' CONCLUSIONS:

There is not enough evidence of important benefits from the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections with antibiotics and there is a significant increase in adverse effects associated with antibiotic use.

PMID:
10796517
DOI:
10.1002/14651858.CD000247
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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