|Generic Name||Brand Name|
|clarithromycin||Biaxin, Biaxin XL|
|doxycycline||Doryx, Monodox, Vibramycin|
|erythromycin||Eryc, EryPed, Ery-Tab|
|trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole combination||Bactrim, Septra, Sulfatrim|
If you have no other health problems, experts recommend that antibiotics not be used for acute bronchitis.1 Whether your doctor prescribes antibiotics and what type depend on the type of infection you have, your age, any other medical conditions you have, and your risk of complications from acute bronchitis, such as pneumonia.
Research on antibiotics and acute bronchitis reports that:2
Different types of antibiotics have different side effects. Common side effects include:
A recent large study shows that people who take erythromycin along with certain common medicines may increase their risk of sudden cardiac death.3 The study showed that the risk of sudden cardiac death is greater when erythromycin is taken with some medicines that inhibit certain liver enzymes—such as certain calcium channel blockers, certain antifungal medicines, and some antidepressants—than when these medicines are not taken together.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
The benefits of antibiotics for acute bronchitis are small and must be weighed against the risk of side effects and the possibility of antibiotic resistance.
If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
Although smokers with acute bronchitis receive antibiotics more than nonsmokers, antibiotics are no more effective in smokers than in nonsmokers.4
- Gonzales RG, et al. (2001). Principles of appropriate antibiotic use for treatment of uncomplicated acute bronchitis: Background. Annals of Internal Medicine, 134(6): 521–529.
- Fahey T, et al. (2004). Antibiotics for acute bronchitis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (4). Oxford: Update Software.
- Ray WA, et al. (2004). Oral erythromycin and the risk of sudden death from cardiac causes. New England Journal of Medicine, 351(11): 1089–1096.
- Wark P (2008). Bronchitis (acute), search date September 2007. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
Last Revised: May 9, 2011
Author: Healthwise Staff
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