Antibiotics Are Not Always Needed
Most of the time, antibiotics are not indicated for use in treating the common cold or flu. A Cochrane report analyzing the available research into the use of antibiotics to treat colds, published in 2013, found that antibiotics do not work for the common cold, and side effects of antibiotics used for the common cold are common.
White, yellow, or even green snot during your cold doesnt necessarily mean its a bacterial infection, so it isnt a reason to ask for antibiotics.
Overuse and overprescription of antibiotics when they arent effective leads to the development of antibiotic-resistant infections. Not only is this a big problem for the entire world, but antibiotics can have nasty side effects for the person taking them.
If you go to the healthcare provider with a cold, theyll generally treat your symptoms, including suggesting you:
- Hydrate with water or electrolyte sports drinks
- Rest and let your body heal
- Suck on lozenges, hard candies, or ice pops to soothe a sore throat
- Try antihistamines or decongestants for symptom relief
- Use saline nose drops or sprays or a neti potstyle sinus rinse to help clear congestion
- Take pain relievers and fever reducers, including Tylenol and Advil , to address those symptoms
Risk Of Unnecessary Antibiotics For Sinus Infections
Taking antibiotics when a bacterium doesnt cause your sinus infection wont help you feel better, prevent the spread of the illness, or cure it. Its possible that if you take antibiotics too often, you wont find success with them when you do need them.
If you do take antibiotics, follow your instructions to the letter. Even after you start feeling better, finish your antibiotic course. Youll want to ensure the medicine eliminates all the bacteria and you dont get sick again.
How Long Does A Sinus Infection Last Over The Counter
Also, some of my patients spray nasal decongestants, like Afrin. But if used for more than three days, these over-the-counter medicines can cause more sinus swelling. Viral sinusitis should resolve in less than 10 days. But if the sickness is linked to allergies or bacterial infection, symptoms can last longer.
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Is There A Best Antibiotic For A Sinus Infection
In most cases, a sinus infection doesnt need antibiotics it will go away on its own. Viruses are usually the cause of sinusitis. However, if yours is due to a bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotic treatment to shorten your recovery time and relieve your symptoms. Amoxicillin, with or without clavulanate,is a first-line antibiotic prescribed for sinus infections, but your doctor will prescribe the antibiotic thats best for your condition.
Only take antibiotics if your doctor prescribes them. Dont try to self-treat your sinus infection by taking leftover antibiotics you may have on hand. Taking antibiotics when you dont need them wont help your condition and could cause serious health problems.
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Can Sinusitis Cause Death
Chronic sinusitis can spread to the eyes, blood, and brain, and, in rare circumstances, cause death. For that reason, its important to take instances of sinusitis that wont go away very seriously. If you have a persistent sinus infection, make sure you follow your doctors instructions regarding your antibiotics and of course, get plenty of rest.
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Treating Sinus Infections: Dont Rush To Antibiotics
Millions of people are prescribed antibiotics each year for sinus infections, a frequent complication of the common cold, hay fever, and other respiratory allergies. In fact, 15 to 21 percent of all antibiotic prescriptions for adults in outpatient care are for treating sinus infections. Unfortunately, most of those people dont need the drugs. Heres why:
The drugs usually dont help.
Sinus infections can be painful. People with the condition usually have a stuffy nose combined with yellow, green, or gray nasal discharge plus pain or pressure around the eyes, cheeks, forehead, or teeth that worsens when they bend over. But sinus infections almost always stem from a viral infection, not a bacterial oneand antibiotics dont work against viruses. Even when bacteria are the cause, the infections often clear up on their own in a week or so. And antibiotics dont help ease allergies, either.
They can pose risks.
About one in four people who take antibiotics have side effects, such as stomach problems, dizziness, or rashes. Those problems clear up soon after stopping the drugs, but in rare cases antibiotics can cause severe allergic reactions. Overuse of antibiotics also promotes the growth of bacteria that cant be controlled easily with drugs. That makes you more vulnerable to antibiotic-resistant infections and undermines the good that antibiotics can do for others.
So when are antibiotics necessary?
How should you treat sinus infections?
When Do You Really Need Antibiotics For That Sinus Infection
- By Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributor
It was February, and clinic was teeming with respiratory infections of all kinds: mostly the common cold, but also bronchitis, pneumonia, and sinus infections. The patients were coming in usually thinking that they needed antibiotics for their sinus infection, or another respiratory infection.The first patient on my schedule was a healthcare provider with sinus infection written down as her main issue.* Shed had about two weeks of nasal and sinus congestion which she blamed on a viral upper respiratory infection . Her two young kids had been sick with colds all winter, so she wasnt surprised to have these symptoms, along with endless postnasal drip and a cough.
Her congestion had improved a bit at one point, and she thought that she was finally getting better. But then, the day before her appointment, she awoke with throbbing pain between her eyes, completely blocked nasal passages, and, more concerning to her, green pus oozing from her left tear duct. She had body aches, chills, and extreme fatigue. Do I maybe need antibiotics? she asked.
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How To Treat A Sinus Infection Without Antibiotics
Before you consider antibiotics, a sinus infection can be treated without leaving at home. Some of the home remedies to treat a sinus infection without antibiotics include:
Antibiotics And Sinus Infections
When a sinus infection hits, it seems worse than what you remembered from the last time you had one. This may give you the idea that you need antibiotics, but most clear up without them. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses and aren’t recommended within the first week of developing a cold. About 70% of sinus infections go away within two weeks without antibiotics.
Consider these other forms of treatments instead of antibiotics:
- These medications are available for over-the-counter purchase. Be careful to only take these medications for a few days at most, as they can cause the return of more severe congestions.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers Aspirins, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help relieve temporary pain.
- Saline nasal spray This is used to spray into your nose several times a day to rinse your nasal passages. It can help to prevent and treat inflammation.
Antibiotics only will be needed if the infection is severe, recurrent or persistent.
The likelihood of bacterial infection increases when:
- Symptoms last seven days or more, particularly when symptoms initially improve and then worsen.
- Mucus is thick and yellow or green in color.
- There is facial or sinus tenderness, particularly if it’s worse on one side of the face.
- Pain is present in the upper teeth and is worse on one side of the face.
If the infection becomes severe, recurrent or persistent, contact your provider.
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How Is Sinus Infection Diagnosed
Diagnosis depends on symptoms and requires an examination of the throat, nose and sinuses. Your allergist will look for:
- Discolored nasal discharge
If your sinus infection lasts longer than eight weeks, or if standard antibiotic treatment is not working, a sinus CT scan may help your allergist diagnose the problem. Your allergist may examine your nose or sinus openings. The exam uses a long, thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera and a light at one end that is inserted through the nose. It is not painful. Your allergist may give you a light anesthetic nasal spray to make you more comfortable.
Mucus cultures: If your sinus infection is chronic or has not improved after several rounds of antibiotics, a mucus culture may help to determine what is causing the infection. Most mucus samples are taken from the nose. However, it is sometimes necessary to get mucus directly from the sinuses.
Knowing what kind of bacteria is causing the infection can lead to more effective antibiotic therapy. A fungus could also cause your sinus infection. Confirming the presence of fungus is important. Fungal sinus infection needs to be treated with antifungal agents, rather than antibiotics. In addition, some forms of fungal sinus infection allergic fungal sinus infection, for example do not respond to antifungal agents and often require the use of oral steroids.
What Matters Most To You
Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.
Reasons to take antibiotics for sinusitis
Reasons not to take antibiotics
I know I have a bacterial infection that is causing my sinusitis.
A virus is causing my sinusitis.
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Why Do I Need Antibiotics For Sinus Infection
You should use antibiotics for a sinus infection when it is clear that its been caused by bacteria.
Its probably a bacterial infection if you notice the following:
- Symptoms persist for seven days or more, especially if they seem to get better and then worsen.
- Your mucus is yellow or green and thick.
- Your facial or sinus tenderness is severe, mainly if one side of your face is worse.
- Pain in your upper teeth area is worse on one side.
Contact your physician if the infection becomes severe, comes back, or isnt getting better on its own.
Throat Irritation And Cough
As discharge from your sinuses drains down the back of your throat, it can cause irritation, especially over a long period of time. This can lead to a persistent and annoying cough, which can be worse when lying down to sleep or first thing in the morning after getting up from bed.
It can also make sleeping difficult. Sleeping upright or with your head elevated can help reduce the frequency and intensity of your coughing.
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What Are The Best Antibiotics For Sinus Infection Do Doctors Prescribe For You
There are many antibiotics that your doctor or physician may prescribe to help treat your sinus infection. Some of these may even be familiar to you.
These antibiotics are effective in treating sinus infection, however, these drugs do carry side effects. You should only be taken according to what your doctor or physician has prescribed. Always follow their instructions to achieve the best results.
How To Treat Sinusitis
With symptoms that linger, it can be hard to treat and get rid of a sinus infection for good.
Antibiotics are the standard treatment for combating sinus infections. Taken anywhere from 3 to 28 days, antibiotics help fight the bacteria. Because antibiotics dont typically alleviate symptoms, nasal decongestants, antihistamines, topical nasal corticosteroids and nasal saline can help to manage them.
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When To Go To The Doctor For A Sinus Infection
Sinusitis belongs to upper respiratory tract infections. It is one of the commonest and a relatively troublesome condition one can have. Yet, it is also one of those infections which patients often attempt to treat at home.
So before you understand when to go to the doctor for a sinus infection, it would be worthwhile to go through a few basic facts about sinuses their infections and how to recognize which sinus is infected.
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Key Points To Remember
- Sinusitis is an infection or inflammation of the lining of the sinuses. Most people who get sinusitis have a cold first. Sinusitis usually goes away on its own.
- Sinusitis is usually caused by a virus, so antibiotics won’t help. Over-the-counter medicines and home treatment can help you feel better.
- Antibiotics do work if sinusitis is caused by bacteria. But you may not need to take them. Most people get better even if they don’t take antibiotics.
- Taking antibiotics too often or when you don’t need them can be harmful. The medicine may not work the next time you take it when you really do need it. This is called antibiotic resistance.
- Antibiotics have side effects. The most common ones include upset stomach, diarrhea, and belly pain. Antibiotics can also lead to vaginal yeast infections.
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When To Seek Urgent Care For A Sinus Infection
Most minor sinus infections get better on their own without the need for medical treatment. More severe sinus infections, however, require urgent care.
First and most importantly, it is important to seek urgent care for a sinus infection if the symptoms begin to worsen or last for an extended amount of time. In the event you have severe trouble breathing due to your sinus infection, then be sure to come in for a visit as soon as possible to have your sinuses cleared out. Also, keep a close eye on your symptoms and seek medical attention if they do not improve after a week.
Additionally, urgent care is highly encouraged if your child develops a sinus infection as they have less of an ability to fight off the infection quickly. Also, it can be much more challenging to diagnose the cause of the sinus inflammation in children. In some cases, the reason could be due to an underlying allergy that you were not aware about.
When you visit, expect us to thoroughly examine you or your childs symptoms and document any information that is relevant to make a proper diagnosis. It may be helpful for you and your child to make a list of all of the symptoms that you or your child has been experiencing, any medications that are currently being taken and any allergies that may exist. Also, consider any questions you may want to ask the doctor at your visit.
Common Symptoms Of A Bacterial Sinus Infection
- Same symptoms of a viral sinus infection
- Symptoms start to worsen after 7-10 days
- Fever that lasts multiple days in a row
- Typically requires antibiotics
So, lets go back to the original question: Can you have a sinus infection without a fever? As you can now see, having or not having a fever wont always help you determine if you have a sinus infection.
However, one thing that you can say with more certainty is that you probably have a bacterial sinus infection if you have a fever that lasts multiple days and does not let up.
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What You Need To Know About Sinus Infections
As the fall months approach, the potential for seasonal allergies, runny noses and sinus infections increases.
Sinus infections happen when fluid builds up in the air-filled pockets in the face. This allows germs to grow. Viruses cause most sinus infections, but bacteria can also be the culprit.
When people say they have sinus pressure, they may mean nasal congestion, Grayson said. Bilateral congestion could mean a person has a viral infection or an allergic reaction. Viral infections dont pick and choose a side.
Grayson adds that people who live in more humid climates like the South tend to suffer more from seasonal allergies because the humidity allows more fungus to grow, and long growing seasons allow for other trees, grasses and weeds. Living in cities can also affect people with allergies due to dust mites.
If your sinus pressure is isolated, you might have a bacterial infection, she said. Thats when you really should go see a doctor. With a virus, you just have to let it run its course.
Some people do get repetitive events, and people who work with small children, such as teachers or day care workers, are more likely to get recurrent viral infections.
Jessica Grayson, M.D.That pesky flu
What The Experts Say When It Comes To Your Sinuses
Eighty-five percent of sinus infections do not require antibiotics and will clear on their own, says Dr. Jennifer Stagg. In fact, the CDC reported in 2016 that half the antibiotic prescriptions written for respiratory infections including sinusitis were unnecessary. In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the antibiotic amoxicillin was no better than a placebo at reducing symptoms in people with acute sinusitis after three days.
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