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Experts Recommend against Treating Sinus Infections with Antibiotics

Posted on March 26, 2012

The most common cause of acute sinusitis is from a viral infection in the upper respiratory tract. There are also less common factors that cause an acute sinus infection, such as a bacterial infection1. As a result, many physicians are quick to prescribe antibiotics to combat the condition. Under new guidelines released this week by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the use of antibiotics to treat most forms of acute sinusitis is not recommended2.

According to the IDSA, sinus infections are the fifth leading reason for antibiotic prescriptions. However, only 2 to 10 percent of sinus infections are actually caused by a bacterial infection2. Doctors are usually quick to prescribe antibiotics, even though the drugs will have no effect on the patient. The widespread use of antibiotics is playing a significant role in the emergence of bacteria that are resistant to conventional antibiotic treatments3. The new voluntary guidelines provide doctors with the specific characteristics needed to distinguish the difference between viral and bacterial sinus infections2.

Telling the difference between viral and bacterial rhinosinusitis is difficult, even for the experts. If you are diagnosed with a viral sinus infection, here are a few tips to help you combat the infection and relieve the discomfort2:

  • Avoid decongestants and antihistamines while you have a sinus infection. These treatments are not helpful and may make the symptoms worse.
  • Use a nasal irrigation system such as Xlear Saline Nasal Spray with Xylitol to flush the nasal passages. Using a sterile saline solution to irrigate these passages may help to relieve some of the symptoms.
  • Taking ibuprofen or Tylenol is helpful in relieving sinus pain.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help your hydrate your body.

See your local Fagen Pharmacy if you need help selecting the best nasal irrigation system for your sinus infection. Your pharmacist can also answer your questions about any prescription medications you might need. As always, make sure to visit your doctor if you think you have an acute sinus infection. Only your doctor can tell the difference between viral and bacterial sinus infections.



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