We’ve all suffered at one time or another from what is called a sinus infection.

Our first reaction is usually to call our Doctor’s office to request an antibiotic to get rid of it.

New guidelines from our infectious disease experts now state that most people who have a sinus infection should NOT be treated with antibiotics because the drugs are unlikely to help.

Although sinus infections are the fifth-leading reason for antibiotic prescriptions, 90-98 percent of cases are caused by viruses, which are not affected by antibiotics.

Prescribing antibiotics for a viral sinus infection does not change the course of the infection and instead can spur the development of drug-resistant superbugs and expose patients to side effects unnecessarily and add to the cost of healthcare.

What are the causes of a sinus infection?

  • Most sinus infections are caused by a virus.
  • Sinus infections are rarely caused by a bacteria.
  • Other causes of a sinus infection include allergies, pollutants, fungal infections, structural problems in the nasal cavity, or a weak immune system.

What are the symptoms of a sinus infection?

  • Headache
  • Nasal congestion
  • Post nasal drip
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Bad breath

What can I do to treat my sinus infection at home when it is a viral infection?

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer.
  • Avoid smoking, second-hand smoke or other pollutants.
  • Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain or fever.

When should I seek my Doctor’s help?

  • Symptoms last for 10 days or more and are not improving.
  • Symptoms are severe and include a temperature of greater than 100.4 degrees F, nasal discharge and face pain for three to four days in a row.
  • Multiple episodes of sinus infection in the past year lasting 4 weeks or more.
  • Symptoms that are not relieved by over-the-counter medicines.