Most Sinus Infections Not Helped by Antibiotics or Topical Steroids

A study published in the December 5, 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and reported on in a December 4, 2007 article from CNN noted that treating routine sinus infections with antibiotics or topical steroids does not help. The study, conducted at the Department of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, England, looked at the effectiveness of antibiotics and steroid sprays used in the treatment of sinus infections.

The researchers randomly assigned 240 adults with sinus infections to receive one of four treatments. The treatments given were either antibiotics (amoxicillin), steroid spray, both amoxicillin and steroids, or a placebo, (fake medicine). The results showed that there was no statistical improvement for the groups using the antibiotics, steroids or both, over the group that got only the placebo treatment.

The CNN article noted that in 2001 the American College of Physicians issued guidelines advising against using antibiotics for most sinus infections in otherwise healthy people. They also noted that about 21 million Americans are diagnosed with sinus infections each year, and this ailment is one of the most common reasons for doctor visits in adults.

Based on these results, lead author Dr. Ian Williamson of the University of Southampton in England, commented that these findings should cause a, “reconsideration of antibiotic use for acute sinusitis. The current view that antibiotics are effective can now be challenged, particularly for the routine cases which physicians treat.” In their JAMA study they concluded, “Neither an antibiotic nor a topical steroid alone or in combination was effective as a treatment for acute sinusitis in the primary care setting.”