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Coughs take longer to clear up than people think: Study

Published on Jan 15, 2013 7:58 AM

(REUTERS) - Coughs usually take longer to clear up than people think, and the gap between how long people expect them to last and how long it actually takes may drive some patients to the doctor for antibiotics that won't help, according to a United States (US) study.

Researchers in the US state of Georgia wrote in the Annals of Family Medicine that survey respondents tended to expect their cough to be gone in about a week, but a review of cough studies shows the hacking takes about three weeks to clear up.

The team, led by Dr Mark Ebell from the University of Georgia in Athens, said they were concerned that patients' unrealistic expectations could lead them to ask doctors for antibiotics that won't speed their recovery, but will fuel drug resistance, cost money and increase the risk of side effects.

"Efforts to reduce inappropriate antibiotic use should target this discrepancy," the authors wrote, referring to unrealistic patient expectations.

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