Avoiding sore throat morbidity and mortality: when is it not “just a sore throat?”

American family physician (Impact Factor: 2.18). 01/2011; 83(1):26, 28.
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Available from: Robert Centor, Oct 13, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: The majority of throat infections are of viral origin and resolve without antibiotic treatment. Despite this, antibiotic use for sore throat infections remains high, partly because it is difficult to determine when antibiotics may be useful, on the basis of physical findings alone. Antibiotics may be beneficial in bacterial throat infections under certain clinical and epidemiological circumstances; however, even many of those infections in which bacteria play a role do resolve just as quickly without antibiotics. Furthermore, non-medical factors such as patient expectations and patient pressure are also important drivers of antibiotic use. To address these issues, a behavioural change is required that can be facilitated by improved communication between primary healthcare providers and patients. In this article, we provide doctors, nurses and pharmacy staff, working in primary care or in the community, with a structured approach to sore throat management, with the aim of educating and empowering patients to self-manage their condition. The first component of this approach involves identifying and addressing patients’ expectations and concerns with regard to their sore throat and eliciting their opinion on antibiotics. The second part is dedicated to a pragmatic assessment of the severity of the condition, with attention to red-flag symptoms and risk factors for serious complications. Rather than just focusing on the cause (bacterial or viral) of the upper respiratory tract infections as a rationale for antibiotic use, healthcare providers should instead consider the severity of the patient's condition and whether they are at high risk of complications. The third part involves counselling patients on effective self-management options and providing information on the expected clinical course. Such a structured approach to sore throat management, using empathetic, non-paternalistic language, combined with written patient information, will help to drive patient confidence in self-care and encourage them to accept the self-limiting character of the illness – important steps towards improving antibiotic stewardship in acute throat infections.
    International journal of clinical practice. Supplement 11/2013; 67(Suppl s180):10-16. DOI:10.1111/ijcp.12336
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    ABSTRACT: Background Diagnosing group A streptococcus (Strep A) throat infection by clinical examination is difficult, and misdiagnosis may lead to inappropriate antibiotic use. Most patients with sore throat seek symptom relief rather than antibiotics, therefore, therapies that relieve symptoms should be recommended to patients. We report two clinical trials on the efficacy and safety of flurbiprofen 8.75 mg lozenge in patients with and without streptococcal sore throat.Methods The studies enrolled adults with moderate-to-severe throat symptoms (sore throat pain, difficulty swallowing and swollen throat) and a diagnosis of pharyngitis. The practitioner assessed the likelihood of Strep A infection based on historical and clinical findings. Patients were randomised to flurbiprofen 8.75 mg or placebo lozenges under double-blind conditions and reported the three throat symptoms at baseline and at regular intervals over 24 h.ResultsA total of 402 patients received study medication (n = 203 flurbiprofen, n = 199 placebo). Throat culture identified Strep A in 10.0% of patients and group C streptococcus (Strep C) in a further 14.0%. The practitioners' assessments correctly diagnosed Strep A in 11/40 cases (sensitivity 27.5%, and specificity 79.7%). A single flurbiprofen lozenge provided significantly greater relief than placebo for all three throat symptoms, lasting 3-4 h for patients with and without Strep A/C. Multiple doses of flurbiprofen lozenges over 24 h also led to symptom relief, although not statistically significant in the Strep A/C group. There were no serious adverse events.Conclusions The results highlight the challenge of identifying Strep A based on clinical features. With the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, non-antibiotic treatments should be considered. As demonstrated here, flurbiprofen 8.75 mg lozenges are an effective therapeutic option, providing immediate and long-lasting symptom relief in patients with and without Strep A/C infection.
    International Journal of Clinical Practice 10/2014; 69(1). DOI:10.1111/ijcp.12536 · 2.57 Impact Factor