Let The Music Play…

Music therapy improves the well-being of patients when undergoing endoscopies or suffering from depressive disorders.

Now investigators looked at anxiety levels of critically ill patients in Intensive Care Units. Three groups were formed and compared: usual care vs. noise-cancelling headphones vs. patient-directed music through noise-cancelling headphones. Anxiety was assessed daily on a 100-point-visual scale and medical use of sedatives was analyzed.

During the 6-days follow-up, anxiety levels of patients receiving patient-directed music was nearly 20% lower than in the usual care group. The headphones-alone group was only 8% less anxious. Sedation-use was lowest in the music-treated group (JAMA 2013 Jun 12; 309:2335).

With modern electronics everybody can take his or her preferred music along everywhere. Ear plugs or earphones are essential though ‘your next-seat neighbor might not fancy head-banging hard rock.’

A nice example that a broader scope and some creative ingenuity are helpful even in medicine and that good treatment consists in much more than filling in prescriptions.
And forgive your neighbor if the music is too loud… again: they are just now treating their anxiety after having stopped smoking 5 days, 12 hours and 22 minutes ago (or so…).
Speaking in a broader scope:
Most patients with what is commonly called ‘acute bronchitis’ with cough and sputum/phlegm-production have a viral infection. Nevertheless many receive antibiotics.
European researchers conducted a trial with 2000 patients presenting cough with or without sputum production. Pneumonia had to be ruled out before they received 1gr of Amoxicillin three times a day for 1 week or placebo.

Researchers found no significant difference between the antibiotic and placebo groups. Outcomes were similar in older and younger adults ( Lancet Infect Dis 2013 Feb; 13:123 ).
It might not always be entirely clear if the patient suffers from a common cold, a pharyngitis, laryngitis or bronchitis.
However: antibiotics (or at least amoxicillin) confers minimal or no benefit.

Be aware of this next time you ask your local chemist for a medicine for your cough. As I had pointed out in a previous article: amoxicillin is Spain’s best-loved medicine and seems to be recommended for all sorts of problems spanning from common colds to unfaithful spouses.

Part of the problem in Spain is that the mostly young ladies behind a chemist’s counter are not pharmaceutical professionals but simple sellers without specific knowledge of medicines – therefore, making your purchase not very far from self-medicating.

One good message though: most people do survive – that’s how I got to know.

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