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Recurring loss of voice during cold. Best solution?

My mother is 80 years old and in generally excellent health. She does have slight high blood pressure but takes lisinopril for that. Otherwise quite healthy and both of her parents lived into their 90s. When Mom gets a cold, though it often settles on her tonsil tab and she loses her voice. This tends to happen 2 or 3 times each year. In the past, her doctor would prescribe antibiotics for her, with her just calling about this on the phone. Her old physician died several months ago so she now has a new physician and he is reluctant to give her antibiotics. Mom is irritated with him but I tend to agree. Do you think the doctor should always take a swab and culture it to determine if the infection is bacterial? And even if it is bacterial, should she be taking antibiotics for this? Does taking antibiotics lower her resistance to future infections? How is it best to treat recurring problems in the throat for an older person?
Asked On : Mon, 28 Jan 2013
Answers:  2 Views:  56
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ENT Specialist 's  Response
Aug 2013
hello and welcome to HCM,

It is difficult to be a good doctor especially if you are expected to do a lot of tests and give a lot of medicines! These are a few points to ponder:

1. As you have rightly mentioned, antibiotics should never be given without at least an examination of the problem though most of the time a throat swab is not necessary. But if the symptoms are less then a throat swab is the best way to decide on the antibiotics.

2. Also as you rightly opined, constant intake of antibiotics tends to produce resistant strains and then the same antibiotic may not be effective so we need to be very careful dispensing them

3. Another thing is that if a proper antibiotic has been started then you should continue the full course and not stop midway or take half course

4. As far as your mothers infection is concerned especially her loss of voice, it is a case of recurrent respiratory infection which needs to be evaluated further and definitely not through the phone. So consult an ENT as soon as possible.

5. Always drink only warm fluids, never take much spicy food and avoid oily food. Do not get exposed to cold blast like the fan or the AC

And finally you do not have to take antibiotics for everything, sometimes just a glass of warm water and voice rest is all that is required and a doctor not giving much tablets can also be good!

take care and hope your mom starts getting more faith in younger generation of doctors

Dr Sriram Nathan
Answered: Thu, 22 Aug 2013
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