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Sinusitis Treatments Found Ineffective
Date:12/4/2007

British study reports antibiotics and nasal steroids don't lessen symptoms

TUESDAY, Dec. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Antibiotics and nasal steroids work no better than a placebo in combating sinus infections, a new British study shows.

"Antibiotics are probably not as effective as have been previously believed, particularly for the majority of cases of acute sinusitis," said study author Dr. Ian Williamson, a senior lecturer in primary medical care at the University of Southampton. "Patients should turn more to symptomatic remedies like analgesics while the body heals itself, usually over a period of three days to three weeks. Topical steroids have little overall effect, but may be beneficial, particularly in milder cases of acute sinusitis."

"For sinusitis, however it is being diagnosed in the primary-care setting, many of these cases do not require treatment, and a more cautious and conservative approach would seem to be warranted," added Dr. Reginald F. Baugh, vice chairman of Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and director of the division of otolaryngology at Scott & White, in Temple, Texas.

But other experts say the study, published in the Dec. 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, is no reason to scrap antibiotics altogether in this scenario.

"This is a helpful and useful study, and we shouldn't condemn antibiotics in those people who need them," said Dr. Michael Stewart, chairman of the department of otolaryngology at New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center, in New York City.

But, he added, only a minority of sinus infections are bacterial and will respond to antibiotics. The majority are viral infections, which won't respond to antibiotics.

According to an accompanying editorial, sinus problems account for 25 million doctor's office visits in the United States each year. Antibiotics are used to treat sinus infections 85
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