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Sinus Infections Are Treated Too Long With Antibiotics: CDC Study

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Despite the adoption of new guidelines stipulating the short-term use of antibiotics for acute sinus infections, physicians in the United States are still overprescribing courses, which last for more than 10 days.

After analyzing data from a sample representing 3.7 million sinusitis patients in 2016, researchers with the Centers for Disease Control found that 70 percent of the prescribed antibiotic treatment actually exceed safe medical standards.

Such unsafe practice presents a danger to public health, as overusing these drugs eventually leads to resistance. Soon, sinus infections may grow immune to these medications, and even the most potent formulation will be rendered useless.

Consequences Of Overusing Antibiotics For Sinusitis

In fact, those infected with sinusitis are discouraged by the CDC from taking antibiotics as much as possible. In the first place, it's rarely caused by a bacteria. Most cases are often brought on by viruses or irritants from the environment.

"Any time antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance," says Katherine Fleming-Dutra, deputy director at the federal health agency's Office of Antibiotic Stewardship in Atlanta and lead author of the study.

Common side effects of antibiotic treatment include rashes, nausea, diarrhea, and yeast infections. However, overdosing on this potent medication can potentially result in fatal reactions and infections, such as Clostridium difficile, which begins with colon damage then ultimately ends in death.

CDC Recommendations For Acute Sinus Infections

For acute sinus infections, the CDC only recommends over-the-counter medication for symptomatic relief. This should be coupled with plenty of rest and liquids, as well as limiting or eliminating exposure to smoke and other air pollutants.

If a patient is complaining of sinus pain and pressure, it can easily be relieved by applying a warm compress over the nose and forehead area. An oral decongestant or a saline nasal spray may also provide some comfort.

Should quick relief be needed, just hop in the shower and let the hot water run while you're inside the bathroom. Breathe the steam in for a few minutes. Another option is to pour hot water into a bowl.

Use Antibiotics Only For Chronic Sinusitis: CDC

Sinus patients whose symptoms have persisted or have progressed after more than 10 days are advised to see their physician to be prescribed appropriate medication. You may already be diagnosed with chronic sinusitis.

Based on the study published March 26 in the journal JAMA Network, an acute sinus infection can be cured in as fast as five days using azithromycin. Be aware of the proper course duration and remind your physician in case you are prescribed too many antibiotic drugs.

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