A study found that antibiotic therapy was no better than placebo in relieving acute sinusitis (see news articles here). This study (see abstract here) published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) was a trial of subjects who met the criteria for acute sinusitis (that means over 7 days of symptoms or worsening after initially getting better) were randomized to amoxicillin or placebo. All subjects used over-the-counter agents for symptomatic relief. At day 3 and 10 of therapy, there were no differences in symptom scores or recovery from the sinusitis. About 80% of subjects at 10 days had symptom improvement regardless of whether or not they took an antibiotic. Interestingly, there was a slight difference in symptom relief at day 7 of therapy, favoring antibiotics.
There have been many trials looking at this issue, and many have shown no difference in symptom improvement or recovery from sinusitis. Antibiotics can be helpful, and occasionally quite necessary; however, overuse of antibiotics can cause bacterial resistance. This is a tough issue, and the debate continues. Nonetheless, it is certainly a worthy discussion topic to have with your physician!
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