Most people turn to antibiotics in hopes of obtaining relief from their sinusitis symptoms. Unfortunately, most of this is wishful thinking more than actual results. Research has shown that antibiotics are ineffective at treating sinusitis — even in extreme scenarios in which symptoms are dire.
This leads us to question what can be done to ease your pain if antibiotics don’t function as they should to help you with your sinus issues. Let the McAllen certified physician assistant, Jonathan Lerma, and his sinus relief specialist team at the Glatz Group of Valley ENT take a closer look at what your options are for relief if antibiotics don’t cut it.
What Causes Antibiotic Resistance?
Antibiotic resistance can take place when bacteria are treated with an antibiotic. The medicine may kill most of these germs, but a small group might survive. This can happen in a couple of ways.
The germs can either:
- Develop an ability to stop the medicine’s impact.
- Form an ability to pump the medicine out of the cell.
- Change (mutate) so that the medicine doesn’t work anymore.
When bacteria get resistant, the original antibiotic can no longer kill them. These germs can grow and spread. They can result in infections that are difficult to treat. Sometimes they may even spread the resistance to other bacteria that they encounter.
When you use an antibiotic, there’s a risk that some of the bacteria will become resistant. Using these medicines when they’re not needed is a key reason why antibiotic resistance is becoming more common.
So it’s best to use these medicines only when absolutely necessary.
Antibiotic Treatment for Sinusitis
Antibiotics are labeled as narrow-spectrum drugs when they work against only certain kinds of bacteria. On the other hand, broad-spectrum antibiotics are more efficient as they fight a wide range of bacteria, but are more likely to promote antibiotic resistance. Because of this, your ENT will most likely prescribe narrow-spectrum antibiotics, which generally cost less. However, you may be recommended broad-spectrum antibiotics for infections that don’t respond to treatment with narrow-spectrum drugs.
1. Acute Sinusitis
In many instances, antibiotics are prescribed for patients dealing with specific issues such as persistent nasal discharge and facial pain, and who are not improving after seven days, or those with severe symptoms of rhinosinusitis, regardless of duration. On the basis of clinical trials, amoxicillin, doxycycline, or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole are preferred antibiotics.
2. Chronic Sinusitis
Even with a long regimen of antibiotics, chronic sinusitis symptoms can be tough to take care of. Generally speaking, however, treating chronic sinusitis with antibiotics and decongestants, is similar to treating acute sinusitis.
When antibiotic treatment fails, allergy testing, desensitization, and/or surgery may be suggested as the most effective options for treating chronic sinusitis. Research studies claim that the vast majority of people who go through with surgery experience improved symptoms and a better quality of life.
3. Pediatric Sinusitis
Antibiotics that are unlikely to be effective in children who don’t improve with amoxicillin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim), or erythromycin-sulfisoxazole (Pediazole), since many bacteria are resistant to these older antibiotics. For kids that don’t respond to two courses of traditional antibiotics, the dosage and length of antibiotic treatment are usually expanded, or treatment with intravenous cefotaxime or ceftriaxone and/or a referral to an ENT specialist is recommended.
Treatment Methods Beyond Antibiotics
About 30 million Americans are diagnosed with inflamed nasal passageways and sinuses each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sinus infection symptoms are uncomfortable, painful and debilitating.
Symptoms can include:
- Sinus pressure behind the eyes and cheeks
- Runny, stuffy nose
- Bad breath
- Thick yellow or green mucus
- Decreased sense of smell
While antibiotics are a common treatment approach, evidence suggests that they do no more good than a placebo in regards to improving sinusitis. Not only that, but adverse effects associated with antibiotic usage and escalating rates of drug resistance are also other reasons to avoid antibiotics.
Instead, we recommend using a variety of methods to accelerate the sinusitis recovery process, including:
- Drinking enough water.
- Eating healthy, immune-boosting foods.
- Keeping sinuses hydrated with humidifiers, saline nasal sprays, and steam treatments.
- Using warm compresses around the nose, cheeks, and eyes.
- Taking over-the-counter medications like aspirin and antihistamines.
Balloon Sinuplasty: An In-Office Procedure Worth Considering
While sinus issues will sometimes resolve on their own or with the help of the treatment methods we just mentioned, chronic sinusitis can last for months. If your symptoms last for more than 10 days or if they recur on numerous occasions, you still have another option.
One especially promising sinusitis treatment that has revolutionized sinus care is the balloon sinuplasty procedure. This minimally invasive technique involves minimal tissue removal with hardly any pain.
Not only can this be done in our very own office, but it also has quicker recovery times than traditional sinus surgery. In fact, most patients resume their normal activities within two days.
If you’ve been living with pesky sinus problems, there’s no reason to continue to suffer — especially if you’ve faced bad luck with antibiotic treatments in the past. If you’re wondering whether you are a candidate for balloon sinuplasty or are interested in learning more about the benefits of balloon sinuplasty, don’t hesitate to reach out to The Glatz Group.
Discover the Best Solutions for Your Sinus Problems When You Visit The Glatz Group of Valley ENT
If antibiotics aren’t doing you any favors and you would like another approach to match your specific needs, we would be more than ‘Glatz’ to answer all your questions and find an ideal resolution.
As COVID-19 concerns are still prevalent and serious, we continue to offer the option to have your symptoms addressed via telemedicine for those who feel more comfortable seeking treatment or help from the safety and comfort of their own homes. If you’re in need of an appointment, you can feel secure knowing that we take precautionary measures to protect our patients and staff on a daily basis. For an in-office procedure, calls are also accepted.