Sinus Infections: To Treat or Not to Treat?

With as brutal of a winter as the country has faced this year, including snow and freezing temperatures even in the Deep South, sinus infections are running rampant. With many who are unaccustomed to cold-related illnesses, sinus ailments can be more than a nuisance; they can be crippling. Many are running to doctors for treatment, but the question remains: Is treating such an infection always the best thing?


Also called sinusitis, sinus infections occur when the lining of the air passages in the nose become inflamed and swell up. This blocks the air passages and creates a backup of mucus. Symptoms include congestion, runny nose, coughing, face-aches and headaches, pressure around the nose and fatigue, similar to a bad head cold.

In most cases, sinusitis is viral and treatments focus on controlling symptoms. This includes the use of expectorants, decongestants, analgesics and spray or irrigation treatments. For viral sinusitis, antibiotics are not effective and taking them could do more harm than good. Generally speaking, a viral case of sinusitis lasts up to ten days.

Bacterial Sinusitis

In some cases, bacterial infections can cause or exacerbate a case of sinusitis. In such cases, there is often more pain or discomfort, and the infection is accompanied by a low-grade fever. These cases can last more than ten days. In cases of acute bacterial sinus infections, doctors often prescribe a course of antibiotics along with the symptom-targeting treatments. Antibiotics are usually taken for up to ten days

Curing Sinus Infections

A sinus infection is considered cured when the sinuses open up and are no longer swollen or inflamed. This clears the nasal passages for air and restores normal drainage. Any viruses, bacteria or other pathogens are killed and the symptoms clear up entirely.

To Treat or Not to Treat?

The question of whether or not to treat a case of sinusitis depends largely on whether a virus or bacteria is the underlying cause. Prescribing antibiotics for a viral infection is never helpful and can, in fact, be harmful by causing the patient to build up a resistance to antibiotics when they may actually be needed. In such cases it is best to simply attack and control the symptoms of the illness, drink plenty of fluids, rest and wait for it to clear up.

In cases of bacterial sinusitis, on the other hand, antibiotics may be necessary to stop the illness. A five-or ten-day course of medications such as amoxicillin, Augmentin, cephalosporin, Bactrim, azithromycin or similar drugs can make all the difference. As with any course of antibiotics, make sure that you follow your doctor’s instructions explicitly and take the entire course, even if you feel better and there is still medicine left. Failing to take all of your antibiotics can result in a recurrent strain of the bacteria which is resistant to treatment

If you are prone to sinusitis, or would like more information about symptoms and treatment, we are here to help. Give us a call today!

You Might Also Enjoy...

Overview of Nasal Polyps

Chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps is a complex health issue which affects 1-4% of the general population. Read More >>

Avoid Asthma Attacks with Better Indoor Air Quality

Tens of thousands of people suffer from asthma in the United States, with hundreds of those in Georgia. The instances of this disease are on the rise across the nation and the world. People who suffer from this illness have swollen and inflamed airways ...

How Do Chronic Sinus Issues Affect Overall Health

Anyone who has chronic sinusitis is quite familiar with the pressure behind the eyes, headaches, constant dripping nose and coughing that go hand in hand with the condition. Here are some things to look out for if you are affected by chronic sinusitis:

The Link Between Nasal Polyps and Snoring

Nasal polyps number among many causes of obstructions within the nasal passages. Such obstructions can lead to increased strain being required for the simple act of breathing. When asleep, this can often enough result in snoring.

Sleep Apnea May Increase Women’s Risk of Heart Disease

Sleep apnea is a silent affliction that affects millions of people every year. It often goes undiagnosed, and has been associated with many health problems from tiredness and lack of focus to high blood pressure to diabetes to mental and emotional problems

Help for Hives

You might think that you are the only one that has them, but you’re not. If you have hives, you are one of MANY! Hives (technically called “urticaria”) is a very common skin problem with the most common symptom being itchiness.