It is officially cold and flu season, and with that, primary care physicians, urgent care and pharmacy minute clinics are packed with patients seeking relief from congestion, sore throat, sinus pain and coughs. Even though being prescribed an antibiotic may make you think you will get better quicker, there is a good chance you are just suffering from a common cold virus, versus a bacterial sinus infection. Even if there is a bacterial sinus infection, 70 percent of these will clear up on their own, if given the time to do so.
For people in good overall health, the following can be a good indicator of when it might be time for antibiotics:
- Symptoms last over seven days
- Mucus is thick and doesn’t drain easily
- Facial pain and tenderness
- Tooth ache, particularly if worse on one side of the face
- Persistent fever, or symptoms that improve and then worsen
It is important to remember that using antibiotics when they are not needed can actually cause more health problems down the road. Both viral and bacterial infections can have the same symptoms. If you suffer from chronic or persistent sinus infections, treatment options are available to help prevent the need for antibiotics.
Ramie A. Tritt, M.D. President, Atlanta ENT