Thursday, October 04, 2007
Sinusitis - When to Start Antibiotics
How many times have you visited your doctor saying, " Doc I have a sinus infection - I need antibiotics". Looking at this picture, it's easy to understand why you would want to get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible. It's gnarly.
Chances are that you are one in the 30-35 million patients a year who develop acute bacterial sinusitis. Symptoms of this condition are severe pain and pressure in the face, forehead, and upper teeth as well as a purulent discharge that drains out of the nose and slips behind the throat causing a nasty taste and nausea. It can make it difficult to concentrate, work, or sleep.
"Quick give me the antibiotics now - I'm launching a project and can't afford to get sick." However, it turns out that once you have this condition there is a natural course that it follows. Antibiotics started before 7 days do not help expedite improvement. Antibiotics are beneficial only if the symptoms of the sinusitis have persisted beyond 7-12 days. Before 7 days, antibiotics do not offer an advantage in treatment. They may however, cause more side effects such as diarrhea, stomach upset and rashes which only compound the suffering.
There are measures other than antibiotics which may help resolve the sinusitis. These include taking decongestants or performing nasal irrigation.
So Googlers and non-Googlers alike, next time you call your doctor about your sinusitis symptoms please take into account as to how many days you have hosted the bug. Have you given the organism proper time to leave on its own terms? If yes, you should be better by 7 - 12 days. If not, then it may be time for an attack via pharmaceutical launches.
Reference: Title: Systematic Review of Antimicrobials for Acute Rhinosinusitis Authors: Michael C. Singer, MD, Richard M Rosenfeld, MD MPH, Stacie Schilling Jones MPH Date: Tuesday, September 18, 9:58 am - 10:06 am presented at the 2007 AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO.
Photo: courtesy of MayoFoundation.