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Antibiotics May Not Alleviate the Symptoms of Sinusitis

Antibiotics May Not Alleviate the Symptoms of Sinusitis

A recent study has shown that antibiotics like amoxicillin are not very effective in controlling the symptoms of sinusitis, which is the infection of sinuses and the nasal passages. The study was conducted on 166 participants and the results are published in the journal of the American Medical Association. Among the participants, 85 were assigned to a 10-day course of amoxicillin and the remaining was assigned to a placebo. All the patients were assessed using standardized measure of sinus-related symptoms called the Sinonasal Outcome Test-16, or SNOT-16. 

The evaluation and treatment of sinusitis patients were done on the basis of CDC guidelines in this study. CDC guidelines clearly suggest that antibiotics be recommended only for patients with moderately severe or severe symptoms. All of the participants had sinus-related symptoms for at least seven days, including facial pain, nasal congestion, and cough, and met the clinical guidelines for having sinusitis. Jane Garbutt, a research associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, claims that since most of the patients who were on antibiotics did not derive any benefit from the antibiotics treatment, most of the patients suffering from sinusitis do not need antibiotics treatment.

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Sinus infections are caused by bacteria or virus. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections but may not be effective in treating viral sinusitis. Participants who have bacterial infections may benefit from taking antibiotics, but it is difficult to tell whether a patient is infected with bacteria or a virus. The present study shows that this might not be useful and that about 80% of the patients get better on their own within 10 days.

This result may have great implications in the public health. Prescribing antibiotics for conditions that do not require them may result in the development of antibiotic resistance. The researchers feel that there is a need to reduce the number of prescriptions of antibiotics, as 90% of the people who are diagnosed with sinusitis are given with antibiotic prescription.