Hive Health Media

Antibiotics Ineffective for Bacterial Sinusitis

Antibiotics do not cure sinus infections. If you have a sinus infection with all the attendant symptoms, do not waste your time pressing your doctor for a course of antibiotics. They will not relieve the symptoms nor will the shorten the duration of your illness any more than would a placebo. This is the unsurprising conclusion of a new research study by doctors at the University School of Medicine in Missouri. Read the findings for yourself in the February issue of JAMA.

Excessive Use of Antibiotics?

There is a consensus of opinion, particularly among this reports authors, that the use of antibiotics is excessive in primary health care. They are in agreement with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in promoting the more thoughtful and sparing use if these drugs. They point to the evidence in the report as a justification for doctors to use in persuading patients with acute sinus infections that antibiotics will not help. Much better that people recover under the power of their own immune system than rely on chemical help.

The sinus are small cavities just above and behind the bridge of the nose and cheek bones. Their purpose is to manufacture mucus. This fluid, under daily conditions, runs away down small drainage tubes into the nose. Sinusitis is a bacterial infection that most often affects one or other of the cheek bones. It is a very common ailment and 20% of antibiotics prescribed in the USA are to fight this infection. Or as this study tells us, to impotently leave the infection untouched while draining the wallet and pocketbook.

Drug Resistant Bacteria

Unfortunately the side effect on your bank balance is not the worst thing about the over-prescription of antibiotics. A growing number of bacteria are developing immunity to the antibiotics at the same time as these are failing to kill off the infections. Alternative prescriptions for the pain, coughing, raised temperatures and blockages associated with sinusitis should be the first line of diagnostic attack.

The study looked at one particular brand of antibiotic, amoxicillin and one hundred and sixty-six mature patients with moderate to acute sinusitis. The patients, all residents and primary care service users in St. Louis, conditions matched exactly the criterion laid down by the specialists at the CDC. In particular they had to have been suffering sinus pain and nasal discharge for between one and four weeks. Chronic sinusitis sufferers and those with complications arising from the infection were excluded from the study.

Amoxicillin vs. Placebo

The subjects were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Either those receiving amoxicillin as a 10 day course or those receiving a placebo. The patients did not know which they were getting so as to avoid psychosomatic effects. They were all given cough remedies and pain killers as needed. The whole group was checked on day 1 and every 3 to 4 days thereafter. They give their feedback on a questionnaire with the unfortunate but appropriate acronym SNOT 16 (Sinonasal Outcome Test-16).

[box type=”important”]Day 3 saw no discernible difference in the groups. Day 7 saw a minor improvement in the amoxicillin group as reported in the SNOT 16. This difference was not a noticeable effect. Day 10 saw 80% of the whole group reporting full cure or much improvement.[/box]

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

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