Study Suggest Cystic Fibrosis Patients May be Receiving Too Many Antibiotics

Study Suggest Cystic Fibrosis Patients May be Receiving Too Many AntibioticsAlthough antibiotics have long been accepted as a means to prolong the lives of patients with cystic fibrosis, a new study suggests that the potentially dangerous drugs may also promote the growth of treatment-resistant bacteria in a patient's lungs, HealthDay reports.

The findings from the 10-year-long study suggest that today's treatment of heavy use of antibiotics may actually not be the best way to treat the disease. Study author Dr. John LiPuma, a research professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases at the University of Michigan, stated the study showed that while it is normal to use antibiotics to keep infection rates low in the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis, keeping a diverse range of bacteria in the lungs could be more beneficial.

"The conventional wisdom has been that as patients with cystic fibrosis age and become sicker, as their lung disease progresses, more and more bacteria move in," LiPuma stated. "But our study – which was the first to examine the bacterial communities in cystic fibrosis patients' lungs over a long period of time – indicates that's not what happens."

Heavy doses of antibiotics, the study showed, actually lowered the diversity of bacteria in the lungs, giving rise to infections that are much harder to treat. With various forms of bacteria in the lungs, the research stated, it seems some forms of bacteria keep tabs on the more dangerous strains.

"What we normally do is essentially carpet bombing with antibiotics," explained LiPuma. "However, what we found is that over time this ultimately helps treatment-resistant bacteria by getting rid of their competition."

According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, cystic fibrosis mostly affects the lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines, sinuses and sex organs, and the severity of the disease's symptoms often becomes worse over time.