Research released in the March 2007 publication of the scientific periodical the Archives of Otolaryngology suggested that antibiotics are now being greatly overprescribed for sinus infections since most cases originate from a virus instead of bacteria, and antibiotics have simply no beneficial impact on viruses. This research checked out two national surveys of patient data from 1999 to 2002 and discovered that there are 14.28 million visits to the doctor for diagnosed chronic rhinosinusitis (sinus infections) and another 3.12 million for acute rhinosinusitis.
The investigation indicated that within the acute cases 83 percent of patients were treated using prescription antibiotics, additionally 70 % of the chronic sufferers were treated with antibiotics. In accordance with a March 19, 2007 article about the study, WebMD notes that only "about 3 to 5 percent of acute sinus infections are bacterial in nature, and thus would react to antibiotic treatment."
Dr. Don Leopold, chair of the University of Nebraska Medical Center's Department of Otolaryngology who worked tirelessly on the sinus study commented, "We don't wish to be using up our antibiotics on these folks." He further noted there are no approved drugs to deal with sinus infections and no recommended course of treatment.
During an interview with WebMD Dr. Leopold added, "By the present guidelines it can appear that antibiotics are increasingly being overused. This might be because of the fact that people feel the need to supply patients something and there aren't a lot of effective treatments. Plus it might be that antibiotics really do help patients feel better."
Dr. David Spiro, a pediatrician and professor at Oregon Health and Science University, commented on the rate of antibiotic treatment for sinus infections and commented that it's "extremely high for a condition that, typically, self-resolves." He added, "Antibiotics aren't harmless. They have side effects themselves. You'll have a really severe allergic reaction."
In an interview from the same article, ear, nose, and throat specialist Michael Benninger, MD, told WebMD that in Europe, antibiotics are hardly ever prescribed for sinus infections. He noted, "In this country, I truly don't believe we have reached the stage where we tell patients they do not need antibiotics." He added, "The final point here is we should not be treating a virus using an antibiotic, and we shouldn't assume that antibiotics are the best treatment for acute or chronic rhinosinusitis."
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