Role of antimicrobials in the treatment of adult patientspresenting to the emergency department with acute gastroenteritis - A mini review

Omar Abbas Ahmed Malik

Abstract


Background & Objective: Acute gastroenteritis is generally considered a self-limiting illness that does not require the use of antibiotics. However, many emergency departments in the country frequently prescribe antibiotics to patients presenting with diarrhoea. This review attempts to determine whether this practice is reasonable. Our objective was to determine the role of antimicrobials in the empiric management of acute gastroenteritis.

Methods: The online data base “PubMed”, as well as the World Wide Web, were searched for relevant articles (RCTs, Reviews, Prospective studies, etc.) with key words such as “gastroenteritis AND antibiotics”, “Management AND gastroenteritis”, “Treatment AND diarrhoea” etc. and covered the years 1960-2016. Fifty articles were studied, of which 43 were chosen on the basis of relevance for qualitative assessment.

Results: The articles reviewed for this paper suggest that antimicrobial therapy is not appropriate for the majority of cases of (uncomplicated) gastroenteritis, as risks (antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, hypersensitivity reactions, etc.) outweigh benefits. However, there are instances where antibiotics are clearly indicated. Further, it is noted that there have not been any recent trials to clarify the role of antimicrobials in adult diarrhoeal illness.

Conclusions: The focus in management of patients presenting with diarrhoea in the Emergency Department should be on rehydration and that only certain patients, such as those with fever or dysentery, or those with an impaired immune response should receive empiric antimicrobial therapy. More studies are needed to determine in what instances antimicrobials are of greatest benefit, so that adverse effects of rampant antibiotic prescription can be curtailed.

doi: https://doi.org/10.12669/pjms.332.11851

How to cite this:Malik OAA. Role of antimicrobials in the treatment of adult patients presenting to the emergency department with acute gastroenteritis - A mini review. Pak J Med Sci. 2017;33(2):488-492.   doi: https://doi.org/10.12669/pjms.332.11851

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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