Infectious Diseases

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Coughs and Colds: Try Salt Water Gargles, OTC Meds First


About 75% of prescribed antibiotics are used to treat upper respiratory tract infections, and most are inappropriate, according to recently released guidelines from internal medicine groups. The physicians recommended that most otherwise healthy adults should treat bronchitis, sinusitis, pharyngitis, and nonspecific upper respiratory tract infections with nonprescription cold remedies and salt water gargles rather than prescription antibiotics.


Gonzales R et al. Principles of appropriate antibiotic use for treatment of acute respiratory tract infections in adults: background, specific aims, and methods. Ann Intern Med. 2001;134:479–86. [Editor’s note: Several other official ACP–ASIM position papers follow this one, including papers discussing background and guidelines for each of the conditions listed above.]