May 20, 2022

Should people treat sinus infection with antibiotics?

Depending on the cause, doctors may prescribe antibiotics for a sinus infection, also called sinusitis.

When a person has a sinus infection, fluid builds up in the air-filled cavities of the face. Typically, these sinuses have a thin wall of mucus that collects dust, germs, and other particles from the air.

Tiny hair-like projections called cilia sweep mucus and any trapped particles from the back of the throat into the stomach. However, in sinusitis, mucus does not flow freely and germs can multiply.

Sinusitis, also called rhinosinusitis, is one of the The most common reasons why people seek medical attention in the United States. Nearly 15% of the population suffers from sinus infections each year, and it is one of the main conditions for which doctors prescribe antibiotics.

This article reviews antibiotics for a sinus infection, their benefits, and alternative treatment methods, including some natural remedies.

An individual does not still need antibiotics for sinus infection. Many sinus infections get better without antibiotic treatment. Also, since many sinus infections are viral in origin, antibiotics do not help in these cases and can cause unpleasant side effects.

Side effects can range from minor issues like rashes to serious health issues, including antibiotic-resistant infections.

People should therefore discuss their symptoms with a doctor and find the best treatment for them. Doctors will only recommend antibiotics when they suspect bacterial sinusitis.

Antibiotics are beneficial for bacterial sinusitis alone. If a person has a viral, fungal, or other sinus infection, antibiotics offer no benefit.

If a person has bacterial sinusitis, treatment with appropriate antibiotics can help resolve the infection. However, evidence shows that antibiotic therapy may not shorten the duration of symptoms or decrease the likelihood of developing complications.

In fact, research shows that antibiotic treatment only cures 5–11% people faster than if they received no treatment. Many cases of bacterial sinusitis go away on their own within two weeks.

Doctors often suggest 10–14 days treatment with amoxicillin or amoxicillin-clavulanate if an individual has bacterial sinusitis.

However, amoxicillins have become less effective in some areas due to antibiotic resistance. In these cases, a doctor may suggest switching to another antibiotic if there is no improvement in symptoms after a few days. The alternatives include:

  • doxycycline
  • fluoroquinolones
  • cefixime with clindamycin

Doctors may recommend the Following non-antibiotic treatments for sinusitis:

  • Nasal decongestants: Over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays can help relieve symptoms of congestion. Options include pseudoephedrine and oxymetazoline. However, people should only use them for up to three days.
  • Antihistamines: People with early-stage allergic sinusitis may find these allergy medications helpful.
  • Corticosteroid nasal sprays: These medications reduce inflammation and swelling in the sinuses. However, they are more effective in chronic and allergic sinusitis.
  • Painkillers: Using acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help if a person is experiencing facial pain.

People with sinus infections may find the following natural remedies helpful in relieving unpleasant symptoms:

  • Rest: Resting while the body is fighting infection helps speed recovery.
  • Air humidification: Keep it moist air with a humidifier or a fresh air vaporizer.
  • Nasal wash: Saline nasal rinses can help clear allergens, germs, and mucus plugs from the sinuses. People can also use a neti pot with previously boiled and cooled water.
  • Liquids to drink: Drinking plenty of water or fruit juice helps keep the mucous membranes moist and promotes good sinus drainage.
  • Inhale steam: This involves pouring boiled water into a large bowl and bending over while inhaling the steam. Usually, the individual drapes a towel over the back of their head, creating a tent above the bowl to trap the steam. The warm, moist air helps relieve pain and sinus drainage. People can enjoy a similar effect from a hot shower.
  • Using a warm compress: Applying heat to the sinuses using a warm washcloth can help relieve uncomfortable sinus pressure. Make sure the compress is not hot enough to damage the skin.
  • Raising the head while sleeping: This position allows the sinuses to drain more easily and reduces congestion.

People can experience the Following Sinus Infection Symptoms:

  • facial pain
  • facial pressure
  • runny nose
  • stuffy nose
  • headache
  • mucus at the back of the throat
  • sore throat
  • cough
  • bad breath

A combination of environmental and other factors can cause sinus infections, including:

  • virus
  • bacteria
  • mushrooms
  • allergens like pollen
  • irritants such as smoke and dust

Viruses are the most common cause of sinus infections and about 90% of people with colds suffer from some form of viral sinusitis.

Viral sinusitis is usually self-limitation. However, a person should make an appointment with their doctor if they experience the Following:

  • worsening of symptoms
  • severe headache or facial pain
  • symptoms that do not improve after 10 days
  • a fever that lasts more than 4 days
  • any concerning symptoms

Also, people should see a doctor if they have had multiple sinus infections in the past year.

A sinus infection causes fluids to build up in the air-filled cavities of the face and the mucus no longer drains freely. Viruses and bacteria can then multiply and cause uncomfortable symptoms. These include facial pain, a runny or stuffy nose, and a cough.

Sinus infections can also occur due to irritants, allergens, and fungi.

Individuals don’t always need antibiotics for sinus infections, and using them when not needed can lead to unpleasant side effects. However, if a doctor thinks the cause is bacterial, they may prescribe them.

If a person has bacterial sinusitis, antibiotics can help. But it’s important to note that most cases of bacterial sinusitis go away without treatment within 2 weeks.

People can help relieve symptoms by inhaling steam, keeping the air around them moist, using nasal decongestants, and taking over-the-counter pain relievers.