||Biaxin, Biaxin XL
||Doryx, Monodox, Vibramycin
||Eryc, EryPed, Ery-Tab
|trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole combination
||Bactrim, Septra, Sulfatrim
How It Works
Antibiotics slow or stop the growth of
bacteria or kill them.
Why It Is Used
If you have no other health problems,
experts recommend that antibiotics not be used for
acute bronchitis.1 Whether
your doctor prescribes antibiotics and what type depend on the type of
infection you have, your age, any other medical conditions you have, and your
risk of complications from acute bronchitis, such as
How Well It Works
Research on antibiotics and acute
bronchitis reports that:2
- Antibiotics reduce coughing slightly, but most people who have
bronchitis improve without antibiotics.
- In people who also have symptoms of a common cold but have no
signs of pneumonia, antibiotics generally are not effective.
Different types of antibiotics have
different side effects. Common side effects include:
- Upset stomach.
- Sore mouth.
- Skin rash.
- Dizziness or headache.
- Increased sensitivity to sun (sunburn easily).
- Vaginal yeast infection.
A recent large study shows that people who take
erythromycin along with certain common medicines may increase their risk of
sudden cardiac death.3 The study showed that the risk
of sudden cardiac death is greater when erythromycin is taken with some
medicines that inhibit certain liver enzymes-such as certain calcium channel blockers,
certain antifungal medicines, and some antidepressants-than when these
medicines are not taken together.
See Drug Reference for a full
list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
The benefits of antibiotics for
acute bronchitis are small and must be weighed against the risk of side effects
and the possibility of antibiotic resistance.
If your doctor
prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just
because you feel better. You need to take the full course of
Although smokers with acute bronchitis receive
antibiotics more than nonsmokers, antibiotics are no more effective in smokers
than in nonsmokers.4
If you have
pneumonia or a chronic respiratory disease, such as
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),
cystic fibrosis, or
bronchiectasis, other antibiotics may be used.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Gonzales RG, et al. (2001). Principles of appropriate
antibiotic use for treatment of uncomplicated acute bronchitis: Background.
Annals of Internal Medicine, 134(6): 521-529.
Fahey T, et al. (2004).
Antibiotics for acute bronchitis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (4). Oxford: Update Software.
Ray WA, et al. (2004). Oral erythromycin and the risk
of sudden death from cardiac causes. New England Journal of Medicine, 351(11): 1089-1096.
Wark P (2008). Bronchitis (acute), search date September 2007. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.