ADVICE, P.R.N.: Infection or allergy?

June 2005 
Volume 35  Number 6
Pages 14 - 14
  PDF Version Available!


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    I work in a busy inner-city ED, where I see a lot of children experiencing asthma exacerbations. My colleague says antibiotics should be prescribed routinely for these patients because infections are the most common cause of asthma attacks. Is she correct? —K.W., ILL.

    No. Although bacterial infections cause some acute asthma exacerbations, the most common cause is allergies. Research has shown antibiotics to be beneficial only when the exacerbation was caused by a bacterial infection such as bacterial sinusitis or pneumonia. As you know, antibiotics should never be prescribed indiscriminately.

    A recent nationwide study involving 937 inner-city children with asthma showed that cockroach allergen is a more common asthma trigger than either dust-mite or pet allergens. Researchers found that most homes in northeastern cities had high levels of cockroach allergens, particularly in high-rise buildings. High levels ...

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