Recent research has revealed that taking antibiotics for three days rather than the usual concept of seven to 10 days is equally effective in the treatment of common pneumonia .
According to researchers this could also help to curb the rising problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria,
Lead researcher Dr. Jan M Prins, an internist in infectious diseases at the Academic Medical Center, in Amsterdam said,'The question is how long you should treat common pneumonia. It turns out that three days is sufficient in children, and we now find the same in adults.'
The research team compared the effectiveness of three days of amoxicillin treatment with eight days of treatment in adults in cases of mild to moderate-severe pneumonia.
119 patients who had improved after three days of treatment with intravenous amoxicillin, and then assigned oral amoxicillin or a placebo for five days were taken as the subjects of the study.v
It was found that 93 percent of the patients treated for three day or eight days, got better. Prins said, 'For patients who responded after three days of antibiotic treatment, you could stop antibiotics and the results were comparable for those treated for eight days.'
The advantage lay in the fact that patients do not have to take in more medication than necessary. 'In addition, there is a relation between how many antibiotics are used in a community and the rate of resistance among bacteria,' he said. 'If you can reduce the use of antibiotics, you can reduce the rate of resistance.'
The results of the research have been published in the June 10 issue of the British Medical Journal.
However Prins has cautioned that all diseases treated with antibiotics cannot become candidates for short-course treatment.
According to Dr. John Paul, from the Royal Sussex County Hospital, in England, and author of an accompanying editorial in the journal, 'There is a lack of clear evidence to allow clinicians to know the optimal duration of antibiotic therapy for many common infections. He added, 'We know that some infections do require long-term therapy to prevent relapse. We know for others that short courses of antibiotics are as good as long courses.'
'This concept is smart,' said Philip Tierno Jr., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Medical Center. 'It eliminates three big problems: The cost to individuals of some of these newer antibiotics, adverse reactions and complications, and the development of resistance.'