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Antibiotic Helps Fight Chronic Lung Problem

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is a common breathing problem. When there is an acute flareup, patients often experience wheezing, coughing and labored breathing. The usual treatment involves inhaled bronchodialtors and corticosteroids. Now researchers report in the New England Journal of Medicine that the use of an antibiotic called azithromycin can diminish the number of flare-ups. Over a thousand patients were randomized to receive either daily doses of this antibiotic or a placebo. The study lasted one year during which the people on azithromycin were about 30 percent less likely to have an acute episode of COPD. Their quality of life also improved. One side effect of the antibiotic was hearing loss. This symptom occurred in 20 percent of those on placebo and 25 percent of those on the antibiotic.

[NEJM, Aug. 25, 2011]

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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