According to the results of a study published recently in the medical journal Lancet, many physicians are overprescribing antibiotics for sinus infections. One report indicates that in the US, 80% of the people who go to their doctor with a sinus infection are prescribed an antibiotic. While antibiotics are designed to work against bacteria, they are not effective against viruses. While either bacteria or viruses can cause sinusitis, antibiotics are overprescribed since viruses cause a relatively large number of sinus infections. Researchers connected with the study indicate that antibiotics are not justified if the symptoms being reported last for a long time such as for weeks.
Last year, a British study reported in The Journal of the American Medical Associated indicated that neither antibiotics nor steroid sprays offered much help to adults with sinus infections. The authors of that study point out that when antibiotics are prescribed and they do not work well, they potentially add to the ongoing problem of drug-resistant bacteria developing in the very patients being treated.