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Zithromax, Amoxicillin, Other Antibiotics Don’t Help with Sinus Infections

Jan 10, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP Antibiotics like zithromax and amoxicillin don’t work on sinus infection, and steroids aren’t much help either.   In fact, some over-the-counter drugs and old home remedies might be far better than the antibiotic – steroid combo many doctors prescribe for sinus infections.

Sinus infections are horrible.  First there is the throbbing headache, then the fever, the thick mucus, dizziness and—for some—pain in the teeth and face.  And we are in the height of sinus infection season. For years, doctors have prescribed what seemed like simple cures:  A prescription for an antibiotic like amoxicillin, along with a steroid nasal spray.  While these may be the standard medication protocols, they may not be the most effective line of attack based on several studies that have examined their effects and found that these methods are no better at shortening a sinus infection than no medication at all.  

The latest study, published in December in The Journal of the American Medical Association, reviewed 240 cases.  The subjects involved in the study were assigned to four groups for different treatments:  One group received a full amoxicillin course for a week along with 400 units of steroid spray for 10 days; another group received just the spray;  another group received just the amoxicillin; and another group received a placebo.  None of the patients receiving medicinal treatments fared better than those receiving placebo treatment, a finding also shown in studies of children.  While the reason is not entirely clear, researchers suspect antibiotics may not be very good at reaching the sinuses.  Experts recommend other approaches like taking ibuprofen, inhaling steam, or using salt water to flush the nasal cavity.

Recently, another study found that antibacterial products are NOT the best line of attack against germs.  While they can help in a pinch, overuse is linked to antibiotic-resistant superbugs, which is why the American Medical Association doesn't support their everyday use.

In the past, when someone was infected with staph, the cure was simple:  A few doses of penicillin.  This is no longer the case and fears of mutation and an antibiotic resistant superbug are now a reality.  A mutated form of staph called MRSA has emerged and, when not treated early, is resistant to all but the one antibiotic of last resort.  Formerly used in the most potent cases, this drug is being used more and more and, as a result, MRSA is developing resistance to this last successful medication.  Bacteria become resistant because of antibiotic overuse and abuse and learn to adapt and mutate, changing just enough to ensure antibiotics have no effect on them and giving them room to spread with increasing virulence.  Hand sanitizers are great when a sink is not available, but soap and water remains the best and safest method for killing bacteria.

If someone is sick at home, wipe down surfaces like doorknobs, drawer pulls, light switches, and faucet handles on sinks, faucets, and the refrigerator with a wipe or spray that kills bacteria and viruses.  During winter, this reduces rotovirus and cold transmission; however, do not become obsessive as it’s better to wash hands before meals, before and after using the toilet, after using public transportation, and when returning home from work or school.  A recent study found those who washed their hands at least seven times a day had 75 percent fewer colds.

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