Measure of the Month: Acute Adult Bronchitis

It seems like everyone has been sick in the last couple of weeks, either with common colds, sinus infections, the flu, or bronchitis. But for those of us who have had bronchitis recently, do you know what the proper course of medical treatment is?

Antibiotics are rarely needed to treat bronchitis, since acute bronchitis is almost always caused by a virus and chronic bronchitis requires other therapies. However, a large percentage, 79 percent, of persons in Kentuckiana with bronchitis received unnecessary antibiotics in 2015. Only 21 percent of adults in the Kentuckiana area with bronchitis were not given an antibiotic.

The KHC tracks prescriptions of antibiotics for acute bronchitis because taking antibiotics when they are not needed can be harmful. Each time someone takes an antibiotic, the bacteria that normally live in your body (on the skin, in the intestine, in the mouth and nose, etc.) are more likely to become resistant to antibiotics. Common antibiotics then cannot kill infections caused by these resistant germs.

When bronchitis is caused by a virus or irritation in the air (like cigarette smoke), antibiotic treatment will not help it get better. Since acute bronchitis almost always gets better on its own, it is better to wait and take antibiotics only when they are needed.

To see more information on Kentucky performance in this and other measures, click here.