What Are The Most Common Antibiotics Used For Sinusitis
Amoxicillin remains the drug of choice for acute, uncomplicated bacterial sinusitis. Amoxicillin is most effective when given frequently enough to sustain adequate levels in the infected tissue. While often prescribed twice daily, it is even more effective if taken in 3 or 4 divided doses. Amoxicillin is typically prescribed for 7-10 days at a time. While it is critical to finish the entire 10 day course of antibiotics when treating strep throat, there is evidence that shorter courses of treatment may be sufficient for most cases of sinusitis. Amoxicillin is closely related to the parent compound penicillin and should not be prescribed in patients who are penicillin allergic.
Cephalosporins and Augmentin are considered broad-spectrum antibiotics because they have enhanced effectiveness against a wider range of bacteria, including those that are resistant to ordinary penicillin or amoxicillin. If the patient does not improve within the first week on amoxicillin, a change to Augmentin or to a cephalosporin such as Ceftin, Cefzil, Omnicef, or Suprax is reasonable. Although these drugs have a similar mechanism of action to penicillin, they generally can be taken in adequate doses once or twice daily. These medications should be used with extreme caution in patients with a history of penicillin allergy, as cross-reaction may occur.
Why Wont My Doctor Just Give Me Antibiotics To Treat A Cold Or The Flu
Dr. Andrew Pavia answers the question: What About Antibiotics For A Cold/Flu?
& #151 Question: Why Wont My Doctor Just Give Me Antibiotics To Treat A Cold Or The Flu?
Answer: You dont want to have anyone give you antibiotics for colds or flu, and you dont want to take them. The reasons are pretty clear cut. Antibiotics only work against bacteria, and viruses are what cause colds and flu. In addition, they cause almost all cases of sinusitis, and bronchitis or chest colds are also due to viruses. So antibiotics wont do any good. Some people have had the experience that the cold settles in their chest somebody gave them antibiotics and they finally got better.
But in fact if you give people sugar pills or antibiotics for acute bronchitis, they get better at the same speed. So it makes no difference whether you take antibiotics or not.
So why not just try them? Well the reason is that like any powerful medicines antibiotics can actually cause harm. And in this case, it can cause harm two ways. You can have bad effects from the antibiotic itself, you can get diarrhea, you can develop rashes. One type of diarrhea called clostridium difficile can be life threatening. In fact, rashes are common enough, and side effects are common enough with antibiotics, that about one in a thousand people who takes an antibiotic will end up in an emergency room for a side effect.
When To Use Antibiotics For Sinusitis
Though most cases of viral and bacterial sinusitis clear up quickly on their own, some dont. Some last longer than a week with no signs of getting better. They can cause a fever that lasts for a few days, severe facial pain or forehead headaches, or symptoms that get worse after they seem to improve.
In those cases, dont wait for the infection to heal on its own. Seek medical attention. If your primary care provider suspects a bacterial sinus infection, you will likely receive an antibiotic prescription. Remember to avoid antibiotics in the early days of an infection. Excessive antibiotic use can reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics in the future. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology recommends you only take antibiotics if symptoms last longer than a week. In the meantime, allow your immune system to do its job.
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What Is Chronic Sinus Infection
Chronic sinusitis is a long-standing inflammation of your sinuses that lasts for 12 weeks or longer at a time. Sinusitis is also known as rhinosinusitis . So, we use the two terms interchangeably. When inflamed, nasal passages and sinuses become swollen and blocked. Chronic sinusitis interferes with the normal drainage of the mucus. Too much mucus builds up in your nose and sinuses, making them stuffy.
When Do I Really Need Antibiotics For A Sinus Infection
When do I really need antibiotics for a sinus infection? is a question many patients have when suffering from bothersome sinus and allergy problems. While sinus infections can be quite painful, antibiotics often do not help in treating the condition.
Sinus infections affect approximately 37 million people in the U.S. each year and can be caused by:
- Nasal polyps or deviated septum causing nasal obstruction
The majority of sinus infections are viral in nature, and antibiotics do not cure viral infections. Taking antibiotics for viral infections also will not:
- Keep you from being contagious to others
- Relieve symptoms or make you feel better
In order to distinguish a bacterial sinus infection from an infection caused by a virus or other contributing factor, your doctor will observe your symptoms and possibly conduct other tests, such as a CT scan or cultures.
Antibiotics are only effective on bacterial infections, and even in cases involving bacteria, the body can often cure itself of mild or moderate infections within a few days.
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Can Sinus Infections Or Sinusitis Be Prevented
Currently, there are no vaccines designed specifically against infectious sinusitis or sinus infections. However, there are vaccines against viruses and bacteria that may cause some infectious sinusitis. Vaccination against pathogens known to cause infectious sinusitis may indirectly reduce or prevent the chance of getting the disease however, no specific studies support this assumption. Fungal vaccines against sinusitis are not available, currently.
If you are prone to recurrent bouts of a yearly sinus infection it may be important to consider allergy testing to see if this is the underlying cause of the recurring problem. Treatment of the allergy may prevent secondary bacterial sinus infections. In addition, sinus infections may be due to other problems such as nasal polyps, tumors, or diseases that obstruct normal mucus flow. Treatment of these underlying causes may prevent recurrent sinus infections.
When To See A Doctor
If your symptoms persist for more than a week, see a doctor.
A sinus infection that lasts longer than two weeks is considered chronic.
See your doctor if you have a fever, are coughing up blood, or develop swelling around the eyes.
Sinus infections can be caused by viruses or bacteria.
If your infection is viral, antibiotics will not help, and may even make things worse.
Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic if he or she suspects your infection is bacterial.
There are many different types of over-the-counter sinus medication available.
Some work better than others depending on the type of infection you have.
Talk to your pharmacist about which OTC sinus infection medicine would work best for you.
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More Choices For Sinus Infections
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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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If You Think You Have A Sinus Infection
If you feel you are experiencing sinus infection symptoms, make an appointment with your PartnerMD physician, and do not attempt to treat symptoms on your own. While you may initially be recommended OTC treatments, only your doctor can accurately diagnose your symptoms, and prescribe the right treatment for relief.
Have a question about your sinus infection symptoms? Contact us today to see if a relationship with a concierge doctor could be beneficial.
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Your Sinusitis Wont Go Away Heres What You Need To Know
Sinusitis also known as a sinus infection is, for the most part, a bacterial infection caused by inflammation of the sinuses. Chronic and recurring long-lasting sinusitis can render you incapacitated and quickly eat up your sick days.
But when your sinusitis wont go away, what options do you have? This guide walks you through how to identify a sinus infection, what happens if you ignore it, how to treat your chronic sinusitis, and more.
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Do You Need Antibiotics
Cold, flu, ear and sinus infection will likely heal with time, not antibiotics
Every year, you and your family face a fair share of cold, flu, ear, and sinus infections. These types of illnesses make you feel extremely bad and unlike your normal self. In fact, sometimes you feel so unlike yourself that you miss work or school and might try any remedy, treatment, or medication to start feeling better again. Antibiotics are often a patient-desired solution for these symptoms.In some cases, antibiotics improve your symptoms and help you feel better, faster. However, in most cases, antibiotics arent necessary. Patients think antibiotics are a quick fix solution. But in reality, antibiotics dont work on viruses that cause the common cold or flu, and rarely help with sinus and ear infections.Antibiotics may:
- Do more harm than good by causing side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, rash, and yeast infections.
- Cause a severe form of diarrhea called Clostridioides difficile , which can be life-threatening.
- Become less effective when used repeatedly.
- Alter the microbiome by causing the good bacteria in the gut to become resistant to bacteria.
If your symptoms are severe and last a long time, your doctor may recommend watchful waiting or a delayed antibiotic prescription.
How Can You Treat Sinusitis Without Antibiotics
Whether sinusitis is caused by bacteria or by a virus, most people get better even if they don’t take antibiotics.1 Home treatment for sinusitis can help relieve your symptoms. Here are some things you can do:
- Drink plenty of fluids to thin your mucus.
- Apply moist heat to your face for 5 to 10 minutes. Do this at least 3 times a day.
- Breathe warm, moist air from a steamy shower, a hot bath, or a sink filled with hot water.
- Use saltwater nasal washes to help keep your nasal passages open and to wash out mucus and bacteria. You can buy saline nose drops or sprays at a pharmacy or make your own saline solution at home. If you make saline at home, use distilled water or water that has been boiled and then cooled. You may also find it helpful to gargle with warm salt water.
- Ask your doctor if you can take over-the-counter medicines such as pain relievers and decongestants to help you feel better. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
- If you need to blow your nose, do it gently. Blowing your nose too hard may force thick mucus back into your sinuses. Keep both nostrils open when you blow your nose.
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Why Would My Doctor Prescribe Prednisone And Antibiotics
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What Prescription Medications Treat A Sinus Headache Pain And Pressure
Headaches from allergies can be relieved with a prescription for nasal steroids sprays unless there is a contraindication. This may be helpful along with nasal saline rinses to decrease inflammation within the nasal passages and treat or prevent sinusitis.
If a bacterial infection is suspected, the health-care professional may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection and at the same time make suggestions to treat the underlying inflammation. To establish the diagnosis of acute bacterial rhinosinusitis and the need for antibiotics, your doctor should confirm that symptoms of acute rhinosinusitis have been present for 10 days or are worsening. Symptoms should include pus-like nasal drainage, nasal obstruction, facial pain, or pressure. If the inflammation does not resolve before the antibiotic course is complete, the bacterial infection may recur.
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What To Do Instead
If you have a respiratory infection, Consumer Reports recommends these steps for easing your symptoms while your body is fighting the infection.
- Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids.
- Use a humidifier .
- Ease pain and reduce fever with acetaminophen and ibuprofen .
- For nasal discomfort, use saline drops or spray.
- To soothe a sore throat, gargle with salt water, drink warm beverages, or eat or drink something cool.
- To ease a cough, breathe steam from a kettle or shower. For mild, short-term relief, try an over-the-counter cough medicine that has dextromethorphan.
Risks Of Sinus Infections
Though most cases of sinus infections are uncomplicated, there are some risks associated with them.
This is mainly because the walls of the sinuses are thin.
They share blood vessels and lymph drainage pathways with the eyes and other parts of the central nervous system.
Some of the rare but serious complications associated with sinus infection include:
- Eye infection: If the sinus infection spreads to the eye, it can cause serious damage and vision difficulties.
- Brain abscess: This is a rare but life-threatening complication that results when the infection spreads to the brain.
- Meningitis: This is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It can be a very serious complication if not treated early.
- Mucocele: This is a benign tumor that can form on the sinus wall as a result of chronic sinus infection.
- Hyposmia: the nasal obstruction and inflammation of the olfactory nerve can cause a partial loss of smell.
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Alternative To Antibiotics For Sinus Infections
Our immune system is usually the best line of defense against sinusitis, but there are some things you can do to make pesky symptoms more manageable. Most symptoms can be handled with home remedies or over the counter medicines. Congestion can be reduced with the use of steam or nasal irrigation to help make breathing easier, and nasal sprays can help keep your sinuses moist which also limits congestion. Read more helpful tips about home remedies on our blog here.
These remedies will help short term infections and minor inflammation for a couple of weeks, but if your symptoms arent gone by the end of two weeks, you may have a chronic issue. Allergies and infections can cause recurrent inflammation leading to symptoms lasting for months at a time. Treatment for chronic sinusitis is focused on solving the root of the inflammation.
For allergies, this can be through prescription nasal sprays, immunotherapy, and avoiding allergens. Recurrent infections can be treated with different administrations of antibiotics, but treating the infection doesnt always alleviate inflammation. Deep inflammation can create blockages in the sinuses that prevent proper healing. When this happens, surgery is often required to remove these blockages.
Viral Vs Bacterial Sinus Infections: Understanding The Difference
A sinus infection occurs when the air-filled cavities in your head called sinuses get infected by a virus or bacteria. This results in inflamed sinuses and a long list of unwanted symptoms.
Though most cases of sinusitis are viral and part of the common cold, some are bacterial in nature. Knowing which you have ensures you get appropriate treatment. Unfortunately, it can be tricky to determine the source of any given sinus infection. That said, the following may indicate a bacterial infection:
- Pain in the upper teeth
- Symptoms that get worse after you begin feeling better
- Thick, colored discharge that is not clear
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Personal Stories About Antibiotics For Sinusitis
These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.
I’ve had sinusitis a few times. So when my doctor suggested I take an antibiotic, I asked him if I really needed it. He said I would probably get better faster if I took the medicine. But I know from the other times that I’ll probably be okay in a week or so anyway. So we decided to wait and see instead of trying antibiotics.
I can’t wait to feel better. It seems like I’ve had bad sinus pain for the longest time. It’s been at least 2 weeks. Nasal sprays aren’t helping. I’m going to ask my doctor for antibiotics.
I thought I just had a bad cold, but my doctor says I have sinusitis caused by a bacterial infection. I’ve been doing all the right things at home, but it isn’t going away. I think antibiotics are the next step for me.
I thought I’d get my doctor to give me some antibiotics for my sinusitis. Then I’d be over it sooner. But it turns out that antibiotics won’t help me, since my sinusitis started as a cold. I didn’t know that antibiotics don’t always work. I’m going to wait it out instead.
John, age 52