Antibiotics Are Not A Good First Choice For Sinus Infections
People often are quick to ask their doctor for an antibiotic prescription when they suffer from a bad flu or sinus infection. These infections can be annoying, with congested noses, headaches, pain all across the face and never-ending mucus. People just want to make the pain and discomfort go away and get on with their lives. Thats understandable, but antibiotics most likely wont better their situation, as has been shown in countless studies. This is because sinusitis, like most infections of the upper respiratory tract, are caused by viruses, not bacteria. And antibiotics only go after bacteria.
Actually, taking antibiotics can make you feel sicker, since your body is already weakened by the viral infection and now you expose it to the stress of antibiotics side effects. All antibiotics have side effects, so they should only be taken when it makes medical sense, such as when treating a bacterial infection.
More generally, you want to keep your antibiotics use at a minimum. Because the more you use antibiotics, the more likely you are to get ill in the upper respiratory tract in the future, as the antibiotics not just kill bad bacteria but also the good bacteria in your body that help protect your health.
It, therefore, is recommended not to immediately treat every sinus infections with antibiotics, but preserve them as heavy ammunition for the most severe cases.
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How Can I Treat Sinusitis At Home
Whats New: Realistic Evidence From Realistic Settings
We believe this meta-analysis provides a high level of evidence against routine treatment of sinusitis with antibiotics in primary care practice. Treating 15 patients with an antibiotic to possibly benefit 1 patient 2 weeks after treatment commences does not seem like a good idea when one considers the cost and complications of antibiotic use. Diarrhea and other adverse outcomes are 80% more common among patients with sinusitis who are treated with an antibiotic compared with placebo.3 As noted above, prior meta-analyses of antibiotic treatment for acute sinusitis have been more encouraging than this meta-analysis, with a number needed to treat of 7, but those meta-analyses are clearly overly optimistic for the results one will achieve in primary care practice using clinical signs and symptoms to diagnose acute sinusitis.3,4 Unlike the Young study, they included trials in specialty clinics with CT scans and sinus puncture and culture used for the diagnostic standard.
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Why Are Antibiotics Important
Antibiotics are one of the most common classifications of drugs used to treat bacterial infections. Since their introduction to the world of medicine, they have helped treat countless people, especially those with infectious diseases.
Antibiotics are very crucial during surgeries and are used to prevent patients from getting any infections from the cut. Without antibiotics, there is a higher chance of blood poisoning and the more complicated surgeries would not be possible to perform.
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Is Your Sinus Infection Caused By A Virus Or Bacteria
Physicians may not know if sinusitis is bacterial or viral, because the diagnosis is typically done by observing symptoms. Symptoms include:
- Nasal congestion
- Thick nasal or post-nasal drainage
Sometimes other tests such as computed tomography scan or cultures are used to help make the diagnosis.
Despite the recommendations that antibiotic use be judicious, they are still overused for sinusitis, according to many physicians who specialize in treating sinus problems.
Some physicians say they give patients with sinusitis a prescription for antibiotics, and recommend they wait three to five days before filling it, and only fill it if symptoms are not better by then. A can be used to help relieve your symptoms and promote drainage.
The longer symptoms last, the more likely a sinus problem is to be a bacterial infection, some experts say.
Which Antibiotics For Sinus Infection Are Most Effective
A leading study reflected various efficacies for each antibiotic commonly prescribed:
90%+ of Amoxicillin, Moxifloxacin & Levofloxacin treatments are effective
70%-80% of Doxycycline, Azithromycin, Erythromycin, Clarithromycin & Cefprozil treatments are effective
50-60% of Cefaclor treatments are effective
80%-90% of High-Dose Amoxicillin, Cefpodoxime Proxetil, Cefixime, and Sulfamethoxazole treatments are effective
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Untreated Sinus Infection Risks
Sinus infections often start to improve on their own after about 10 days. If your symptoms last longer without improving or if they worsen, a doctor may need to treat the underlying cause of the infection.
If a sinus infection affects a sinus cavity close to the brain, it can spread to the brain if left untreated. Though rare, an infection can also pass into the eye socket and cause vision changes or blindness. These types of infections are more common in kids.
While uncommon, a serious fungal sinus infection left untreated may pass into the bones.
Make an appointment with a doctor if you have severe symptoms, or if the following symptoms last longer than 10 days or keep coming back:
Because the cause of your sinus infection can affect your treatment options, its important to see a doctor for a diagnosis. The Healthline FindCare tool can provide options in your area if youre looking for a doctor.
If you believe you have chronic or recurring sinusitis, consider asking for a referral to an otolaryngologist, also known as an ear, nose, and throat specialist. You may need imaging and other tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.
An ENT specialist can take a culture of nose drainage to better understand the cause of an infection. The ENT specialist can also examine the sinuses more closely and look for any problem in the structure of the nasal passages that could lead to chronic sinus problems.
Do Antibiotics Treat Sinus Infections
Antibiotics are a type of medication that stops bacteria from growing and, as a result, improves symptoms of an infection.
Healthcare providers only prescribe antibiotics for sinus infections that they believe are bacterial.
Antibiotics dont work on viral or fungal infections, and taking antibiotics when you dont need them can cause unnecessary side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain.
Plus, taking antibiotics too often can create antibiotic resistance.
The most common antibiotics prescribed for sinus infections are penicillin-class antibiotics such as amoxicillin or amoxicillin-clavulanate .
If you have a penicillin allergy, a common alternative is doxycycline.
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How To Treat A Sinus Infection At Home
In the first two weeks of a sinus infection, patients may use saline sprays, over-the-counter steroid sprays like Flonase, and over-the-counter decongestants.
After 10 days, if the drainage is still colored, an antibiotic is likely necessary. Theres no homeopathic alternative to antibiotics. However, saline spray, topical steroid sprays, and decongestants work well with antibiotics to clear most infections.
When To Use And Avoid Antibiotics And Other Treatments To Try
A sinus infection can be treated with antibiotics when it is caused by bacteria. Sinus infections that have other causes, such as allergies or viruses, won’t benefit from antibiotics.
Most sinus infections don’t need antibiotics and will start to get better without treatment. Healthcare providers typically only prescribe antibiotics for sinus infections that don’t clear up on their own.
This article looks at what types of sinus infections can be treated with antibiotics. It also discusses over-the-counter treatments and home remedies.
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What Is A Sinus Infection Or Sinusitis
Inflammation of the air cavities within the passages of the nose is referred to as sinusitis. Sinusitis can be caused by infection , but also can be caused by allergy and chemical irritation of the sinuses. A sinus infection occurs when a virus, bacterium, or fungus grows within a sinus.
Sinusitis is one of the more common conditions that can afflict people throughout their lives. Sinusitis commonly occurs when environmental pollens irritate the nasal passages, such as with hay fever. Sinusitis can also result from irritants, such as chemicals or the use and/or abuse of over-the-counter nasal sprays, and illegal substances that may be snorted or inhaled through the nose. About 30 million adults have âsinusitis.â Colds differ from sinusitis and are only caused by viruses and last about seven to 10 days while sinusitis may have many different causes , and usually last longer with more pronounced and variable symptoms.
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Two Types Of Sinus Infections
Lets differentiate between acute and chronic sinus infections. Acute sinus infections can last up to 4 weeks. If you are experiencing sinus infection symptoms for longer than 2 weeks, it doesnt mean you have a bad case of sinusitis this is normal. If you experience symptoms for longer than 4 weeks, this can be considered subacute anything that lasts longer than 12 weeks is considered chronic.
Now, lets differentiate between bacteria and viruses. Either of the two can infect the body, and each warrants a different course of treatment. Bacterial infections require antibiotics, while viral infections do not they resolve themselves. All you can do in the latter case is to drink plenty of fluids, rest, and take decongestants. The majority of cases are viral, in which case your doctor cant prescribe you with anything other than decongestants.
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When Do I Need Antibiotics For Sinus Infection
- Oyewale Oyelami
Do I need antibiotics for sinus infection? Using antibiotics to treat a sinus infection depends on what caused the infection- a virus or a bacterium. Doctors wont prescribe an antibiotic if your sinus infection starts because of a virus. So lets dive into this a bit more.
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How Well Do Antibiotics Work For Sinusitis
Antibiotics can only be effective against bacterial sinusitis. Antibiotics wont help if an individual has viral, fungal, or another type of sinusitis.
When do I need antibiotics for sinus infection? If you have bacterial sinusitis, treatment with the right antibiotics will help eliminate the infection. However, it is essential to remember that some studies show that antibiotic therapy doesnt always lessen symptom duration or the chance of developing complications.
According to recent statistics, antibiotic treatment cures five to 11% of people faster than if they didnt get treatment. Additionally, several cases of bacterial sinusitis go away by themselves in about two weeks.
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Why Antibiotics Wont Help And Might Hurt
Almost all URIs are caused by viruses, and at present we dont have medications that work against them.
As for the small percentage of upper respiratory infections caused by bacteria, most go away on their own and often just as quickly even if you dont take antibiotics. So if theres a chance antibiotics can help, whats the harm?
There are many reasons to be conscientious about taking antibiotics, including breeding resistant superbugs or making your health care cost more. However, theres another reason thats of immediate concern: diarrhea. Antibiotics can wreak havoc in your intestines and upset the normal balance of bacteria including the bacteria that help you digest food, which can lead to abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and alternating diarrhea and constipation. Taking multiple courses of antibiotics puts you at risk of potentially long-lasting effects on your gut.
Like everything health-related, the decision about whether to take antibiotics for a bacterial infection comes down to weighing the risks and benefits. Your provider will be happy to discuss the decision with you in detail.
When Are Antibiotics Prescribed For A Sinus Infection
Your doctor will consider antibiotic treatment if you do not see relief from these initial treatments. If you develop a fever, or tenderness and pain in your teeth, you may be experiencing symptoms of a bacterial sinus infection.
Not all antibiotics are effective for treatment of bacterial sinus infections, so your doctor will look at your medical history and current symptoms to determine the best antibiotic treatment.
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When To Use Antibiotics To Treat A Sinus Infection
Antibiotics only work against bacterial infections, so the best time to use them for a sinus infection is when you and your doctor suspect bacteria caused the infection.
Otherwise, you may be at risk for unwanted side effects or even antibiotic resistance.
When this happens, bacteria outsmart the medications designed to kill them, and the antibiotics no longer work when you need them.
That said, it can be hard to know whether a sinus infection is viral or bacterial.
Some scenarios, such as an infection that persists longer than 10 days or an infection that goes away and then returns, may indicate a bacterial infection and prompt a provider to prescribe antibiotics.
In some cases, a healthcare provider may also treat a sinus infection with antibiotics as a precaution to prevent complications in people with compromised immune systems that cant easily fight off infections.
If your doctor prescribes antibiotic treatment, follow their instructions.
Take the antibiotics at the same time every day. If you miss a dose, take it when you remember or, if its close to your next dose, wait until then and take one dose.
Do not double up on antibiotics doses.
If you experience unwanted side effects of antibiotics, your sinus infection isnt improving, or you develop new symptoms, contact your healthcare provider, who can help you figure out whats going on.
While sinus infections usually dont cause major medical problems, they can have severe symptoms and other complications.
Can Sinusitis Cause Death
Chronic sinusitis can spread to the eyes, blood, and brain, and, in rare circumstances, cause death. For that reason, its important to take instances of sinusitis that wont go away very seriously. If you have a persistent sinus infection, make sure you follow your doctors instructions regarding your antibiotics and of course, get plenty of rest.
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How To Get Rid Of Sinusitis
If you want to get rid of your sinusitis, you and your ENT will need to work together to discover the source of your sinus infections. For example, your sinusitis might always be precipitated by a cold, or you could have a deviated septum and sinusitis or sinusitis and sleep apnea. Regardless, finding the root cause behind your recurrent or prolonged sinusitis will help determine treatment.
Once the source of your sinus infections is found, you and your ENT will need to discuss treatment options. For those with recurrent sinus issues, one treatment, in particular, has proven itself effective again and again. That treatment option is balloon sinuplasty.
Balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive, in-office procedure that takes less than 20 minutes to perform and requires little to no recovery time.
What Else Do You Need To Make Your Decision
Check the facts
- You are right. Most of the time, sinusitis is caused by a virus, and antibiotics don’t work against a virus.
- Sorry, that’s not right. Most of the time, sinusitis is caused by a virus, and antibiotics don’t work against a virus.
- It may help to go back and read “Get the Facts.” Most of the time, sinusitis is caused by a virus, and antibiotics don’t work against a virus.
- Sorry, that’s not right. Taking antibiotics too often or when you don’t need them can be harmful. The medicine may not work the next time you take it when you really do need it.
- You’re right. Taking antibiotics too often or when you don’t need them can be harmful. The medicine may not work the next time you take it when you really do need it.
- It may help to go back and read “Get the Facts.” Taking antibiotics too often or when you don’t need them can be harmful. The medicine may not work the next time you take it when you really do need it.
- You’re right. Antibiotics can treat short-term sinusitis when it is caused by bacteria. But many people get better even without antibiotics.
- Sorry, that’s not right. Antibiotics can treat short-term sinusitis when it is caused by bacteria. But many people get better even without antibiotics.
- It may help to go back and read “Get the Facts.” Antibiotics can treat short-term sinusitis when it is caused by bacteria. But many people get better even without antibiotics.
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How Is Sinusitis Treated
Your treatment will depend on the cause of your sinusitis. Most of the time, treatment includes medicines and taking care of yourself at home. Medicines that are used most often include:
- , such as Sudafed, that are taken as pills or liquids. These can reduce swelling and improve sinus drainage.
- Over-the-counter pain medicine, such acetaminophen or ibuprofen .
- Antibiotics, which kill bacteria. Antibiotics will only work if your sinusitis is caused by bacteria. Most of the time, sinusitis is caused by a virus.