The cold seasons witness frequent bouts of sinusitis cases in hospitals with doctors being surrounded by people sneezing and blowing their nose off due to common cold, pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus infection. Earlier patients used to cut short their medication tenure by a day or two despite doctor’s prescription indicating longer days of medications. But now, people prescribed antibiotics for sinus infections are on medication for 10 days or longer despite infectious disease doctors recommending only 5-7 days of medication for normal cases, according to a new study.
The study analyzed over 3.7 million adults prescribed antibiotics for sinusitis and found that more than 70% of them were prescribed antibiotics for 10 days or longer. This is not what is desired as our body becomes susceptible to side effects and even more, longer use of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance.
As the phrase suggests, antibiotic resistance is the ability of the bacteria to resist the effects of an antibiotic and reduce the effectiveness of the prescribed drug. Cold, many of the sinus infections, most coughs and bronchitis (chest cold) are all viral infections and viral infections should never be treated with antibiotics in the first place. Also, antibiotic resistance is existing as the world’s most pressing health problem and some antibiotic-resistant infections can result in serious disability or even death. Read more on antibiotic resistance at www.firsteatright.com.
Antibiotic use can cause dizziness, nausea and diarrhea in a person while serious side effects can also include life-threatening allergic reactions and Clostridium difficile infection. Beyond the point that antibiotics should not be prescribed for cold, these medications are still prescribed for patients. When prescribed, it should be for not more than 5-7 days as the patient starts recovering within a few days after treatment.
Azithromycin, an antibiotic that’s not recommended for sinus infection, was excluded from the study after which results showed that 91% of all antibiotics prescribed for sinus infections were for not less than 10 days. It might also be possible that the doctor prescribing the medication advised his/her patients to stop medication after 5-7 days unless the patient still experienced symptoms.
Earlier guidelines suggested that antibiotics usage for shorter time durations will not kill the bacteria and there is 100% risk that the infection would recur at any point following the treatment. But now, the opposite has been proved true. If the patient starts responding to treatment, 5-7 is good enough and there is no need for use of antibiotics for longer durations than that.
Cold or Bacterial Infection?
Sinus infections can be a viral or bacterial infection and the only way to differentiate is to swab inside the nose and grow a culture. Often, its not needed as sinusitis mostly goes away on its own but if it persists for more than 10 days, it is better to visit your physician. Almost 85% of the sinus infections clear out on their own and it is remaining 15% only that need medical treatment. Treatment becomes necessary here (15%) as antibiotics might help prevent complications that might arise when any dangerous sinus infection spreads to the brain or eyes. Eye complications are more common accompanied by symptoms such as swelling, redness and reduced vision which can sometimes, even lead to blindness. Rarely, infections that spread to the brain can result in meningitis and brain abscess. Such complications from sinusitis even made people suffer from death during earlier times, in the absence of antibiotics. Mostly the bacterial infection too goes away on its own when the individual has no other medical problems that need attention and individuals can stay calm. Be precautious and monitor your sinus infections and seek the guidance of a physician if any symptoms worsen. Until then, drink plenty of fluids and take rest to shun away the effects of sinusitis.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.
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