What Your Doctor Needs To Know
To find out if youâve got more than a bad cold, you need to learn the cause of your symptoms. Your doctor can help you figure out whether you have sinusitis or something else.
Tell your doctor how long youâve had sinus symptoms, and whether theyâve gotten worse or stayed the same. If youâve had them for less than 10 days and theyâre not getting worse, you probably have a viral infection. It will likely go away on its own.
Over-the-counter treatments like saline sprays, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen may help ease symptoms along the way. might reduce the swelling and inflammation temporarily. If you use them, read the directions carefully and only use as directed. Using nasal decongestant sprays for more than a few days could make the congestion worse.
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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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Antibiotics Fail To Clear Up Sinus Infections
Antibiotics should not be taken to treat run-of-the mill sinus infections, according to a new study.
After three days of treatment, people taking amoxicillin saw no better improvement in their symptoms than people taking a placebo, the study showed. The research involved 166 participants who took either the antibiotic amoxicillin or a placebo to treat their sinus infections for 10 days, and did not know which they were taking.
Our findings support recommendations to avoid routine antibiotic treatment for patients with uncomplicated acute rhinosinusitis, the researchers wrote in their study, to be published tomorrow in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The researchers focused on day 3 of the treatment because most sinus infection symptoms clear up on their own by day 10, according to the study. The symptoms most frequently reported were congestion, pain or pressure in the face and coughing.
Some previous studies have found that antibiotics make the symptoms of sinus infections to clear up faster, but other studies have not found this benefit, according to the study. Moreover, analyses that have looked at the results of many studies together have found little evidence of a benefit. Still, of all prescriptions for antibiotics in the U.S., 20 percent are written to treat sinus infections, according to the study.
Neither group reported serious side effects about a fourth of the people in each group experienced a headache, according to the study.
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Will A Sinus Infection Go Away On Its Own
Often, a sinus infection will peter out after about 10 days. Home remedies can be enough to get you over the hump. However, some cases are more serious, lasting 12 weeks or more. A chronic sinus infection could mean there is an underlying bacterial infection that needs professional medical attention. Some infections will be accompanied by a fever. A fever is defined as a temperature of 100.4 degrees F or greater and is the bodys way of fighting off infection. Fevers above 102 degrees warrant a call to your doctor or a visit to a walk-in urgent care.
Sinus Infection Antibiotics No Help
Antibiotics, Steroid Spray No Help for Adult Sinus Infections
One of the most common complications of the common cold or flu is a sinus infection. The symptoms: a stuffy nose a thick, dark-colored nasal discharge and head pain.
Youâve very likely had such an infection. And if, like 25 million other Americans, you went to a U.S. doctor, thereâs a 90% chance you got a prescription for antibiotics.
You very likely had some side effects from that antibiotic. But itâs extremely unlikely the antibiotics you took were much help, according to a study by Ian G. Williamson, MD, senior lecturer at the University of Southampton, England.
âWe are confident that if there is an effect of antibiotics on acute sinus infections, it is not very big â certainly not as big as people have been led to believe,â Williamson tells WebMD.
Williamson and colleagues studied 240 patients ages 16 and older whose symptoms suggested that they had a sinus infection caused by bacteria. Viruses also cause sinus infections, but antibiotics do not help viral infections.
Study patients received antibiotic treatment with amoxicillin, an antibiotic often used for bacterial sinus infections, with or without nasal steroid sprays. A fourth of the patients received no treatment at all, but just got inactive placebo pills and placebo sprays.
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Antibiotics And Sinus Infections
When a sinus infection hits, it seems worse than what you remembered from the last time you had one. This may give you the idea that you need antibiotics, but most clear up without them. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses and aren’t recommended within the first week of developing a cold. About 70% of sinus infections go away within two weeks without antibiotics.
Consider these other forms of treatments instead of antibiotics:
- These medications are available for over-the-counter purchase. Be careful to only take these medications for a few days at most, as they can cause the return of more severe congestions.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers Aspirins, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help relieve temporary pain.
- Saline nasal spray This is used to spray into your nose several times a day to rinse your nasal passages. It can help to prevent and treat inflammation.
Antibiotics only will be needed if the infection is severe, recurrent or persistent.
The likelihood of bacterial infection increases when:
- Symptoms last seven days or more, particularly when symptoms initially improve and then worsen.
- Mucus is thick and yellow or green in color.
- There is facial or sinus tenderness, particularly if it’s worse on one side of the face.
- Pain is present in the upper teeth and is worse on one side of the face.
If the infection becomes severe, recurrent or persistent, contact your provider.
What Are The Different Types Of Sinus Infections
Sinusitis is categorized based on how long the condition lasts as well as its frequency:
- Acute sinusitis usually lasts a few weeks, but less than a month. There is a subcategory of acute sinusitis, called recurrent acute sinusitis, which occurs when someone gets four or more sinus infections in a year, with symptoms resolving after each one.
- Subacute sinusitis lasts one to three months.
- Chronic sinusitis lasts three months or more.
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Do I Need Antibiotics For A Sinus Infection
Sinus infections can be extremely frustrating, especially when you have a headache and facial pain that doesnt go away, coupled with the inability to breathe through your nose. You want immediate relief, but unfortunately, it takes at least a few days to start feeling better. You may think you need to go to the doctor and get antibiotics for a sinus infection, but this isnt always the case.
In the winter months, sinus infections, colds, bronchitis, pneumonia, the flu, and other respiratory infections are common. Patients think that if they come down with an illness, they will require antibiotics. However, most sinus infections dont require antibiotics.
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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Can A Sinus Infection Last For Months
Sinusitis wont go away at the drop of a hat. It tends to linger and, if left untreated, it can last for months. Again, its best to take a trip to your doctors office if your symptoms last longer than one week.
Note that there is a chance that long-term sinus issues may be caused by allergens. If this is the case, then your sinus symptoms will likely last until you can escape the allergen or have the allergies treated.
Do I Have Covid Or A Sinus Infection
Although some of the symptoms are shared, there are several distinct ways to tell if you have covid or a sinus infection.
Its human nature to sometimes think the worst if you experience any symptoms in todays environment but in fact, the common cold, influenza, allergies, and sinus infections share some of the same symptoms as the COVID-19.
Heres how you can tell the difference and when you should consider seeking medical help.
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Killer Sinus Infection How To Tell If Yours Is Viral Or Bacterial
You know the symptoms: nasal congestion, facial pressure, pain, fever, too much mucus. Ugh. Its probably another sinus infection.
But is your infection caused by a virus or bacteria and does it really matter?
It does matter. Doctors treat viral and bacterial sinus infections differently. Here is what you need to know about both kinds of infection and how to treat them.
Viral or bacterial?
Most sinus infections are viral, and most are caused by the virus that causes the common cold. How can you tell, based on symptoms, whether your infection is viral or bacterial?
Normally, you cant.
Symptoms like bad breath, yellow or green mucus, fever and headache are not reliable signs of a bacterial infection. They can be present with viral infections, too. Even your doctor cant tell if your infection is viral or bacterial based solely on symptoms or an exam.
Instead, your doctor looks at symptom duration to determine the source of your infection. A viral sinus infection will usually start to improve after five to seven days. A bacterial sinus infection will often persist for seven to 10 days or longer, and may actually worsen after seven days.
4 steps you can take
Whether your sinus infection turns out to be viral or bacterial, you can help to ease your symptoms early on with supportive care:
Use saline spray two to three times per day in each nostril.
Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid per day.
Get plenty of rest.
What to do for chronic sinusitis
How Can You Help Your Patient
What to do, then, for patients with acute sinusitis? Treat the symptoms, which means recommending pain medication for facial pain or headache and saline nasal spray for the nasal discharge, not antibiotics or nasal corticosteroids. Side effects will be fewer and costs will be lower.
- Saline irrigation. A 2007 Cochrane review of 8 chronic and recurrent sinusitis trials showed that nasal saline irrigation is effective for reducing symptoms of chronic and recurrent sinusitis.8 Although we do not have high-quality RCT data on saline nasal irrigation for treatment of acute sinusitis, nasal saline irrigation is harmless and inexpensive.
- What about nasal steroids? The evidence is equivocal, and the most recent high-quality RCT of nasal steroids showed no effect.9
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What Matters Most To You
Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.
Reasons to take antibiotics for sinusitis
Reasons not to take antibiotics
I know I have a bacterial infection that is causing my sinusitis.
A virus is causing my sinusitis.
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What Are The Best Antibiotics For Sinus Infection Do Doctors Prescribe For You
There are many antibiotics that your doctor or physician may prescribe to help treat your sinus infection. Some of these may even be familiar to you.
These antibiotics are effective in treating sinus infection, however, these drugs do carry side effects. You should only be taken according to what your doctor or physician has prescribed. Always follow their instructions to achieve the best results.
What Are Complications Of Sinus Infection Or Sinusitis
While serious complications do not occur frequently, it is possible for a sinus infection to cause a direct extension of infection into the brain through a sinus wall, creating a life-threatening emergency .
In addition, other adjacent structures can become infected and develop problems, such as osteomyelitis of bones in the skull and infection around the eye . Rarely, these infections may cause death. The most susceptible individuals to complications are patients with suppressed immune systems, diabetes, and relatively rarely from multiple trauma injuries that may occur in natural disasters.
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Sinusitis Resistance To Antibiotic
Bacteria resistance to antibiotics is a big problem throughout the United States. Several common bacteria behind sinusitis can carry a gene that makes them resistant to the effects of antibiotics. Youll notice this after a few days of treatment when the gene activates. It can even travel between bacteria in a plasmid capsule, affecting a large population of bacteria.
When you dont show improvement after a course of antibiotics within four to seven days, especially if you did seem better at first but then got worse again, you might be dealing with resistant bacteria. Talk to your physician about an examination and potential culture or sinus DNA analysis. These tests can identify the most harmful resistant strains within about 24 hours and offer a comprehensive bacterial analysis within one week.
How Can I Permanently Cure Sinusitis
Permanent cures for chronic sinusitis and sinus headaches are sometimes possible, but it can depend on the reasons why you are affected.Treatment Options for Sinusitis Painkillers. Antibiotics for bacterial infections. Mediation to reduce the inflammation. Using a humidifier or nasal spray. Drinking plenty of fluids.
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Most Common Antibiotics Used For Sinusitis
The most commonly recommended antibiotic for acute, uncomplicated bacterial sinusitis is amoxicillin.
Its most effective when the patient takes it frequently enough to maintain adequate levels in the infected tissue. Often, doctors prescribe it twice daily, though three or four divided doses can be even more effective. Amoxicillin is usually prescribed for seven to ten days. While it is crucial to finish the entire ten-day course of antibiotics for strep throat, shorter courses could be sufficient for several cases of sinusitis.
Azithromycin is an alternate treatment option for those who are allergic to amoxicillin. The primary benefit of azithromycin is expediency. The suggested treatment for acute bacterial sinus infections is 500 mg once daily for three days. Unlike amoxicillin, azithromycin is even more effective when doctors prescribe a sizeable single dose instead of spreading the doses out.
How An Ent Treats A Sinus Infection
If you have a lingering sinus infection after antibiotics, an ENT doctor often elects to be more aggressive in treatment than a primary care physician. They may prescribe longer courses of antibiotics, stronger medications, or recommend a procedure to open the sinuses.
If you have persistent sinus problems, the sinuses must first be unblocked. Sometimes, thats done through a simple balloon sinuplasty and irrigation. Other times, unblocking the sinuses requires a more aggressive procedure like endoscopic sinus surgery. We opt for this procedure when the sinuses become so blocked, tissue and bone need to be removed to create a wider opening.
If youre dealing with a lingering sinus infection, dont let it progress to a more serious issue. Call your ENT so they can discover whats at the root of your problem and find a treatment to bring you relief.
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