NICE guidance on antibiotic treatment of cough

  • Date: 28 August 2018

ANTIBIOTICS should not be administered as first-line treatment for cough, according to new draft guidance by NICE and Public Health England.

Patients should be advised to take honey or over-the-counter cough medicines and consult their GP if the cough persists for longer than three weeks. The reasons for not giving an antibiotic should be clearly explained and advice given to the patient on appropriate self-care.

An antibiotic may be necessary for acute cough when a person has been identified as being systematically unwell or if they are at risk of further complications, for example people with a pre-existing condition such as lung disease, immunosuppression or cystic fibrosis.

The draft guidance provides information about the most appropriate choice of antibiotic and duration of the course.

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.

"When prescribing antibiotics, it is essential to take into account the benefit to the patient and wider implications of antimicrobial resistance, only offering them to people who really need them.

"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."

This draft guideline is part of a suite of antimicrobial prescribing guidance developed with Public Health England to help manage common infections and prevent antimicrobial resistance. Information also about managing sinusitis, sore throat and otitis media can be found on the NICE website.

The consultation for this acute cough guideline closes on the 20th September 2018.

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

Save this article

Save this article to a list of favourite articles which members can access in their account.

Save to library

Related Content

Roundtable part 2 - Diagnosing conditions with a slower progression

Risk: Opioid prescribing risks

Roundtable part 1 - Dealing with serious childhood illnesses

For registration, or any login issues, please visit our login page.