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Antibiotics Overused By Dementia Patients

Armen Hareyan's picture

Most dementia patients are taking antibiotics without significantly benefiting from them. Experts call on doctors to be more picky to prescriptions, because antibiotics are being overused by these patients.

Archives of Internal Medicine published a study discussing antibiotic use in dementia patients. The study examined 214 patients in nursing homes. They were been followed for 18 months. 66% of them received at least one antibiotic course during the study. 99 of these patients died during the study. 42% of them received antibiotics within he last two weeks of their life.

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All dementia patients have greatly increased risk for infection diseases, such as respiratory-tract diseases, fever. These disease are traditionally being treated by antibiotics, but the main cause in this case is brain cell damage. Most of dementia patients die from infection disease, but they don't benefit from antibiotics.

The studied patients were at late stages of dementia, they were unable to recognise their family members, speak, feed themselves. They received antibiotics through intravenous or intramuscular injection and suffered even more from injection pain and drug side effects. However, the study agrees with prescribing antibiotics to early stage dementia patients, because they may have quality of life improved.

The research suggests all doctors to be more careful with prescribing antibiotics, talk to dementia patients' families, explain the situation. Prescribing antibiotics with no benefit hurts not only dementia patients, but also general public health. More bugs are mutating and becoming antibiotic-resistant, making treatable diseases widespread and unbeatable because of vast use of antibiotics.

About 70% of 5 million US residents with dementia end-up in nursing homes. Doctors are unable to make their lives longer or to improve quality of life. Families and doctors should think of making their lives comfortable, rather than uselessly prescribing antibiotics with no added benefit.