NICE cough guidance urges GPs to reduce antibiotic use

GPs should avoid antibiotics and choose honey, herbal remedies and other over-the-counter medicines as first-line treatments for acute cough, according to draft guidance from NICE and Public Health England (PHE).

GPs urged to cut antibiotic prescriptions for cough
GPs urged to cut antibiotic prescriptions for cough

Patients presenting with coughs that have lasted around three weeks - most likely caused by a cold or flu virus or bronchitis - should not be prescribed antibiotics as they ‘make little difference’ to symptoms, the guidance says.

GPs should encourage patients to self-care using remedies such as honey or cough medicines containing pelargonium, guaifenesin or dextromethorphan - a move that could help reduce GP workload.

The guidance reads: ‘Promoting the role of self-care may help to reduce the amount of antibiotic prescriptions, and repeated or future consultations in general practice.’

Self-care

Professor Mark Baker, director of the centre for guidelines at NICE said: ‘We are keen to highlight that in most cases, antibiotics will not be necessary to treat a cough. We want people to be offered advice on alternatives that may help ease their symptoms.

‘This guideline gives health professionals and patients the information they need to make good choices about the use of antibiotics. We encourage their use only when a person is at risk of further complications.’

Dr Tessa Lewis, GP and chair of the antimicrobial prescribing guideline group said: ‘If someone has a runny nose, sore throat and cough we would expect the cough to settle over 2-3 weeks and antibiotics are not needed.

‘If the cough is getting worse rather than better or the person feels very unwell or breathless then they would need to contact their GP.’

It is also recommended that GPs fully explain the reasons for not giving an antibiotic, and that appropriate self-care advice is given to patients.

This guidance has been developed with PHE as part of a wider programme aiming to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

GMC tells BMA to name the doctors responsible for bullying and harassment

GMC tells BMA to name the doctors responsible for bullying and harassment

Senior BMA representatives could face investigation over harassment and bullying...

BMA sexism report backs overhaul to boost representation of women

BMA sexism report backs overhaul to boost representation of women

The BMA should use quotas and minimum thresholds for at least the next decade to...

Key recommendations from the BMA sexism investigation

Key recommendations from the BMA sexism investigation

A damning report into sexism at the BMA, conducted by top barrister Daphne Romney...

Medicines export ban widened as drug shortages continue

Medicines export ban widened as drug shortages continue

The government has added four medicines to the list of products wholesalers are banned...

Damning report on BMA sexism condemns 'failure of leadership'

Damning report on BMA sexism condemns 'failure of leadership'

Whistleblowers have spoken of feeling vindicated after a damning report condemned...

Flawed GP consultation data could distort access targets, BMA warns

Flawed GP consultation data could distort access targets, BMA warns

Flawed data on GP consultations could leave practices facing unfair access targets,...