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Study authors say there’s no clinical benefit for antibiotic treatment for most patients with sinusitis.
Antibiotics won't help relieve a sinus infection any faster, new research has found.
The study, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that patients with acute rhinosinusitis had no differences in symptoms or quality of life three days after starting on amoxicillin compared with patients who received a placebo instead, MedPage today reported.
Amoxicillin is the most commonly prescribed antibiotic for sinus infection.
"It provides further evidence for what we've really suspected for a long time — that in the management of patients with acute sinusitis, antibiotics do not convey any additional benefit," said Jay Piccirillo, MD, of Washington University in St. Louis, in the JAMA Report.
Or, as Jane Garbutt, the lead study author and research associate professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, puts it in a Bloomberg interview: "There’s no clinical benefit for antibiotic treatment for most patients with sinusitis."
However, she adds: "It’s hard for doctors to not give an antibiotic when there isn’t a good alternative."
According to Reuters, experts have grown increasingly worried about overuse of antibiotics, known to fuel the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria.
One in five antibiotic prescriptions in the US is given to adults for sinus infections, the authors wrote.
Writes Reuters: "That's a particular concern with sinus infections, because doctors can't tell if the disease is caused by bacteria or by a virus, in which case antibiotics would be worthless."
Garbutt suggested hold off on antibiotics for a few days to see if the sinus infection cleared up on its own.
Over-the-counter painkillers and cold and cough medicines might help treat symptoms, she said, while more research was needed into whether treatments like nasal irrigation also helped ease symptoms.