Antibiotics are commonly prescribed for sinus infections. Unfortunately, a new study has shown that antibiotics do not reduce symptoms are reduce the duration of a sinus infection.
Regularly prescribed antibiotics, such as amoxicillin, to treat the symptoms of sinus infections do not reduce symptoms or the duration of a sinus infection. In fact, patients are better off getting better on their own.
The study involved 166 adults with an acute sinus infection and was led by Jay F. Piccirillo, M.D., professor of otolaryngology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The participants had a moderate to severe sinus infection and were monitored for 28 days.
The patients either received a 10 day treatment of amoxicillin or a a placebo. After three days, there was no difference in quality of life assessment by the placebo or amoxicillin group. By the tenth day, both groups had said their symptoms greatly improved or cured.
Sinus infection includes tenderness in the face, nasal discharge, cough and congestion. The patients filled out a questionnaire on the third, seventh, 10th, and 28th day of the study. Symptom relapse, missed days of work and symptom recurrence was also noted.
While the antibiotic group had improved scores on the seventh day, when compared to the placebo group, it was not significant enough and researchers note that patients were unlikely to notice any symptom relief.
Antibiotics are prescribed in about one out of five cases of sinus infection, according to researchers. According to Dr. Jane M. Garbutt, M.D., research associate professor of medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine, antibiotics are overused by doctors.
Rather than use antibiotics to treat sinus infection as a whole, doctors should treat the symptoms, such as cough, congestion or nasal discharge instead, according to researchers. Careful observation and diligent monitoring by the doctor can be used to see if any further treatment is warranted.
A sinus infection is a serious disease with painful symptoms and people can miss work because of it. Unfortunately patients do not find relief from antibiotics. Future studies can help find new treatments for sinus infections.
This study was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. No author conflicts were reported.
This study was published in the February edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.