Inhaled antibiotics may help to treat recurrent respiratory tract infections

29 July, 2019

Inhaled antibiotic therapy improves respiratory morbidity and reduces the frequency of respiratory tract infections in patients with severe neurological impairment, according to new research published in ERJ Open Research.

Researchers based at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, conducted the retrospective data analysis with 20 patients who had neurological impairment and microbial airway colonisation (including 11 nontracheotomised and nine tracheotomised).

In order to assess whether inhaled antibiotic therapy may improve the morbidity of these patients, the participants (and caregivers where applicable) completed two questionnaires during the study period, which asked about the number of respiratory tract infections they experienced, antibiotic therapies, and the frequency of hospitalisations.

The first questionnaire asked about the 12 months prior to the initiation of inhaled antibiotics, and the second questionnaire about the first 12 months under therapy.

The researchers found that during the first 12 months of therapy, the mean frequency of respiratory tract infections among all participants reduced from 6.8 episodes to 2.5 episodes. The data also showed a significant decrease in the mean number of systemic antibiotic therapies from 7.7 to 2.5, and the mean frequency of hospitalisations decreased from 3.9 to 0.9.

The researchers say these therapeutic effects could be demonstrated in a subgroup analysis in both tracheotomised and nontracheotomised patients, though they highlight that the reduction of respiratory infections and antibiotic therapies was significantly greater among nontracheotomised patients compared with the tracheotomised group.

The authors caution that the retrospective study design means objective data may be missing to verify the participants’ answers to the questionnaires, and they say that other treatments may also have influenced the study results.

In summing up, the researchers say their data indicates that inhaled antibiotics may provide a new therapeutic option in patients with neurological impairment, which can improve the patient's morbidity, prognosis and quality of life.