Sinus Infections: Antibiotics or Not?

For Sinus Infection, Don’t Bother with Antibiotics. Try this instead

Sinus infections are drippy and painful – an all-around headache, quite literally. When symptoms arise, patients often rush to the doctor for a prescription, usually an antibiotic, to put an end to the suffering.

But it turns out you’d do just as well to take a sugar pill and treat yourself with standard drugstore remedies. According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by researchers at Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis, the antibiotics typically prescribed by doctors work no better than placebo for reducing symptoms of infection.

Patients don’t get better faster or have fewer symptoms when they get antibiotics,” Jay F. Piccirillo, professor of otolaryngology and the study’s senior author, said in a statement. “Our results show that antibiotics aren’t necessary for a basic sinus infection – most people get better on their own.”

In fact – “Patients can avoid the complications of antibiotics, and, as a society, we can delay the emergence of new resistant bacteria through the restrained use of antibiotics,” Piccirillo told NPR. “What we want to break is that knee-jerk request for antibiotics, and the doctor’s reaction to give it.”  (Currently 1 in 5 antibiotic prescriptions in the U.S. are written for sinus infections)

However there are other options, that do work:

  • Get steamy: The heat and steam from a hot shower does wonders for congestion and sinus pressure. Close the bathroom door and run the shower on super hot for a few minutes, staying in the bathroom to breathe in the steam. Lower the temp and hop in, allowing the hot water to gently massage your sensitive sinuses. If you don’t want to get in the shower, you can also place a towel over your head, and lean over a pot of super hot water, breathing in the vapor.
  • Try a Neti pot: To loosen up mucus and help it make its way out of your sinuses, give a Neti pot a try. Follow the instructions on how to use best.
  • Hot compress: If the pressure is getting to you, run a washcloth under hot water, lie down and place the folded hot compress over your eyes. Gently press along your sinuses, massaging the sensitive areas to loosen up mucus.
  • Sleep with a humidifier: If your symptoms are worse at night, keep your head slightly propped up with some pillows and sleep with a cool mist humidifier in the room.
  • Drink up: Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. Staying hydrated can help loosen thick mucus, so you’re able to blow your nose effectively.
  • Get sweaty: If you’re feeling up for it, do a high-intensity cardio workout that gets you hot and sweaty. This is a great way to get congestion relief.
  • Chiropractic Adjustments: Chiropractic adjustments to the neck and upper back not only boost your immune system, they can also help open up the sinuses and allow them to drain.
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