Although the condition usually resolves itself without serious complications, doctors have few tools to address the pain and misery that can afflict patients while the sinusitis runs its course.
Antibiotics are the standard first-line treatment, given to almost 90 percent of patients. But the study authors pointed out that only one in 15 patients seem to get any benefit from the approach.
On the other hand, steroid sprays have been cited as helpful in the treatment of a range of respiratory illnesses among both children and adults.
Enter the Oxford team, which set out to analyze the findings of six acute sinusitis studies conducted through early 2011 in the United States, the United Kingdom and Turkey.
In all, the studies involved nearly 2,500 acute sinusitis patients, both children and adults. No chronic sinusitis patients were included, and all studies explored the potential benefit of three types of corticosteroid nasal sprays: budesonide (Rhinocort), fluticasone propionate (Flonase, Flovent) and mometasone furoate (Nasonex). In five of the studies, antibiotics also were prescribed.
The bottom-line: The analysis revealed that the nasal sprays appeared to provide a "small but significant benefit" within two to three weeks of treatment.
Facial pain and nasal congestion were the two symptoms cited as being most responsive to spray treatment. And, in that respect, more was more: Higher doses and longer treatment plans (those lasting three weeks) seemed to provide the greatest relief.
The team was somewhat tepid on the degree of benefit, however, noting that two-thirds of the patients saw their symptoms improve or disappear altogether within two to three weeks after taking "dummy" sprays with no corticosteroid in them. Taking the actual nasal spray appeared to help only 7 percent more patients, the researchers noted.
Thompson said the findings suggest that, although nasal sp
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