The researchers reviewed medical literature and found that the average duration of an acute cough is 17.8 days. They then checked about 500 adults and found that their cough lasted an average of seven to nine days.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Experts say that most people have a wrong idea of how long an acute cough should last. This may lead to the unnecessary and dangerous overdose of antibiotics. "No one wants or likes a lingering cough. Patients simply want to get rid of it. After exhausting over-the-counter regimens for about a week, they visit their doctors with the hopes of obtaining a prescription antibiotic for a self-limited condition [that is] usually caused by viruses," which do not respond to antibiotics said Dr Graham, from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
The question is how long an average acute cough should last? The researchers from the University of Georgia, in Athens, reviewed medical literature and found that the average duration of an acute cough is 17.8 days. They then checked about 500 adults and found that their cough lasted an average of seven to nine days. And if a patient believes an acute cough should last about a week, they are more likely to ask their doctor for antibiotics after five to six days of having a cough, the researchers found out. The patients can then wrongly think that the antibiotic helped.
If patients take the drug seven days after the cough began, they may feel better naturally after three to four days, with the cough gone after 10 days. That coincides with the average duration of an acute cough and could lead patients to incorrectly believe that the antibiotics cured their cough, the researchers explained. Prescribing unnecessary antibiotics for virus-linked coughs are another cause of antibiotic overdose, and the overuse of antibiotics can foster genetic mutations that help germs resist the drugs, experts said. Therefore, it's important for doctors to explain to patients how long an acute cough typically lasts, the researchers explained.
"This study is a great reminder to doctors to remember that the evidence once again says no antibiotics for cough. Time may be the best medicine we can offer our patients," Dr Graham said. Dr Calman the chairman of the department of family medicine and community health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City said the scenario described in the study is all too familiar.
"Oftentimes, unnecessary [medicating] is the result of impatience on the part of the patients to get better and the failure of [doctors] to know and/or explain to their patients [the realistic] expectations for the partial or complete resolution of their symptoms. This study is important in reminding providers that the resolution of cough in an acute illness will often take weeks, and, further, in reminding us of the importance of informing patients of those expectations," Calman said. The research appears in the January/February issue of the journal Annals of Family Medicine.