ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine have identified a painful illness, common during the winter months when people suffer through colds, for which antibiotics don’t seem to provide much benefit: acute sinus infections.
In the research published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 166 adults who were recently diagnosed with the infections were randomly assigned to take the antibiotic amoxicillin or a placebo for 10 days. After three days, there was little difference between the recovery of the amoxicillin group and the control group – although both groups felt significantly better after 10 days.
Lead researcher Dr. Jane Garbutt says a similar study in children previously had shown that much of the time, antibiotics don’t really do much to improve sinus infections. So she wasn’t surprised that this study found a similar result in adults.
“We hope that this provides evidence that doctors can use with patients, to tell them that there’s no real benefit from prescribing an antibiotic,” Garbutt said. “They should feel better within the next few days with or without antibiotics.”
How to explain the findings? “I think more often than not, these infections are viral,” said Garbutt, “so antibiotics aren’t going to help.”
While some people with sinus infections actually do have a bacterial infection, there’s no simple way to draw a sample from the sinus cavity, short of surgery.
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