In an editorial, Dr. Rita Redberg, the journal’s editor, noted that only about 10 percent of sore throats are caused by strep bacteria — which antibiotics can treat.
The second analysis found antibiotics were prescribed at 73 percent of all visits for bronchitis in 2010, a rate that didn’t change from 1996. Only rare cases of bronchitis are caused by bacteria.
Bronchitis “just needs to take its time to run its course, which can be frustratingly long,” sometimes three weeks or more, Linder said.
Some over-the-counter cough medicines can help bronchitis; gargling with salt water can help sore throats, and rest and fluids can help both, he said.