Antibiotics may not be so effective in treating patients with cough caused by chest problems, a recent Lancet insight suggests.
If a person is diagnosed with pneumonia, then antibiotics should be used due to the severity of the disease, reveal experts.
Prof Paul Little who led the research, said: "Using the antibiotic amoxicillin to treat respiratory infections in patients not suspected of having pneumonia is not likely to help and could be harmful. Most mild chest infections will settle by themselves with no need for antibiotics - as mainly caused by viruses"
"Overuse of antibiotics, dominated by primary care prescribing, particularly when they are ineffective, can lead to the development of resistance and have side effects like diarrhoea, rash and vomiting."
"Our results show that people get better on their own. But given that a small number of patients will benefit from antibiotics the challenge remains to identify these individuals."
Dr Nick Hopkinson, a member of the British Lung Foundation, said: "Some patients with mild chest infections will ask for a prescription - this study can help GPs suggest it may not be the best thing for them. Most mild chest infections will settle by themselves with no need for antibiotics - as they are mainly caused by viruses.
"This study is encouraging and supports what GPs are already doing.Overprescribing of antibiotics can lead to bacterial infection resistance."