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For many years, I have been consulted for a second opinion by worried parents about their children who have chronic recurrent sore throats. Many had been scheduled to have their tonsils removed by ear, nose and throat doctors. I have prescribed long-acting erythromycin antibiotics and the children have stopped having recurrent sore throats and therefore didn't need to have their tonsils removed.

I am delighted to report that in Acta Paedriactica, researchers from Sweden found chlamydia bacteria in almost all the tonsils that were removed from children with chronic recurrent respiratory infections. Chlamydia pneumoniae is a common cause of respiratory infections in children and that bacteria remains in a child's throat forever until it is killed by the appropriate antibiotic.

Only three classes of antibiotics kill chlamydia: tetracyclines, erythromycins and quinolones. Of the three, only erythromycin can be given to children. Tetracycline causes brown teeth and quinolones damage growing cartilage. Therefore pediatricians do not routinely prescribe the only antibiotic that can kill chlamydia. Conventional throat cultures cannot find chlamydia because the only test to find it is called polymerase chain reaction and that test is not offered by commercial laboratories. So doctors cannot culture chlamydia, the bacteria remains in a child's throat until it is treated and pediatricians rarely prescribe the only readily available antibiotic that will cure chlamydia.

Many cases of chlamydia sore throats are treated by surgery to cut out tonsils, when they should have been treated by taking a simple, safe antibiotics. According to this study, the preferred antibiotic for children with recurrent upper respiratory infections is erythromycin which is not usually given because it causes such a high rate of stomach cramps, or Zithromax, Biaxin or Dynabac, which are far less likely to cause stomach cramps. See also report #G144.

Chlamydia pneumoniae in children undergoing adenoidectomy. E Normann, J Gnarpe, J Naas, H Gnarpe, MG Karlsson, B Wettergren. Acta Paediatrica, 2001, Vol 90, Iss 2, pp 126-129. Address: Normann E, Gavle Cent Hosp, Dept Paediat, SE-80187 Gavle, SWEDEN

June 1st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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