Antibiotics are no help in severe asthma: study

But they are associated with a longer hospital stay, higher costs and increased risk of diarrhoea

Antibiotic therapy in patients with severe asthma flares has been shown to provide no additional benefit, according to the results of a large retrospective US analysis in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Guidelines do not recommend antibiotics for patients hospitalised with an asthma exacerbation — unless there are clear signs of infection.

However, a previous study has suggested 41% of patients receive antibiotics on day one, says the retrospective's lead author Dr Mihaela Stefan, from the University of Massachusetts Medical School-Baystate in Springfield, Massachusetts.

In the analysis, researchers looked at more than 19,800 adults hospitalised for asthma exacerbation and treated with systemic corticosteroids between 2015 and 2016.

Forty-four per cent were started on an antibiotic during the first two days of their hospital stay.

These patients were older (median age 48), and more likely