Antibiotics No Better Than Placebo for Treating Sinus Infections, Study Finds

By Perry, Susan | MinnPost.com, February 15, 2012 | Go to article overview

Antibiotics No Better Than Placebo for Treating Sinus Infections, Study Finds


Perry, Susan, MinnPost.com


Some 20 percent of antibiotic prescriptions in the United States are written for sinus infections, despite scant scientific evidence that such treatments actually work -- and despite deep concerns that the unnecessary use of antibiotics is leading to the very serious worldwide problem of antibiotic resistance.

But the routine prescribing of antibiotics for common sinus infections (sinusitis) may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to the results of a randomized trial (the gold standard of research studies) published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The new study found that antibiotics do not ease the symptoms of a sinus infection any faster than a placebo pill. Nor do they help sinus-infection sufferers return to their normal daily activities any more quickly.

The study instead confirmed what many health professionals already suspected: Most uncomplicated cases of sinus infection clear up on their own within 10 to 14 days, with or without antibiotics.

Study details

For the study, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis randomly assigned 166 patients, ages 18 to 70, to either a placebo or a 10-day treatment with the antibiotic amoxicillin (500 milligrams three times a day). All the patients had been diagnosed with moderate, severe or very severe symptoms of a sinus infection - - such things as congestion, cough, headaches, running nose, sore throat and fever.

All participants were also told they could take over-the-counter pain relievers, nasal decongestants and other medications to relieve their symptoms, if they wished. …

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Antibiotics No Better Than Placebo for Treating Sinus Infections, Study Finds
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