Sinusitis is a condition that is usually caused by viruses. Because of this and other reasons, antibiotics are not the best route for sinusitis treatment. Antibiotics are anti-bacterial by nature and work best for treating bacterial infections– these do not work on viruses. Here are the reasons why antibiotics aren’t helping your condition:
Why Won’t My Sinus Infection Go Away with Antibiotics?
Antibiotics don’t work against viruses
Antibiotics are only capable of killing bacteria, so inflammation from other sources can’t be managed by them. Sinusitis is often a result of a viral infection like a cold or the flu. Viruses replicate by infecting body cells, which makes killing them much more difficult than bacteria.
What should you do? For better or for worse, the immune response is the quickest way to manage these infections. Home remedies and over the counter medications can help make being sick more tolerable, but don’t actively fight the infection.
Antibiotics don’t work on allergies
Sinus inflammation can also be a result of allergies. Allergies are an overactive immune response to something like pollen or dust. In this case there’s no infection to fight, so antibiotics provide no benefit at all.
What should you do? Allergies are best handled by nasal sprays, decongestants, and allergy immunotherapy. Allergy immunotherapy is the best way to prevent allergic sinusitis from becoming a chronic issue– it works by exposing patients to low doses of allergens and reducing the immune response over time.
Antibiotics don’t work on antibiotic-resistant bacteria
One scenario that is becoming more common is antibiotic resistant bacteria. Many bacteria that cause respiratory infections are beginning to develop resistances to the most common antibiotics. For example, S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae cause infections that can turn into sinusitis.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to tell when a bacteria is resistant to antibiotics until treatment begins and fails. Luckily, a bacteria resistant to antibiotics isn’t necessarily resistant to the immune response, but leaves you with fewer options to ease your illness.
What should you do? If the infection manages to become too severe you’ll have to rely on a more potent or specialized antibiotic which can have worse side effects.
You may have chronic sinusitis
If you have been experiencing sinusitis symptoms repeatedly for long periods of time, you may possibly have chronic sinusitis. This is a condition where sinusitis lasts for months despite treatment. Stuffy and runny nose, difficulty in breathing, facial pain or tenderness, and a weakened sense of smell or taste are just some of the symptoms you may experience with chronic sinusitis.
What should you do? It’s important that you confirm whether or not you have chronic sinusitis to move on to treatment. We recommend balloon sinuplasty for our patients with chronic sinusitis since it is a minimally-invasive procedure that gives long-term relief.
Take our quiz to find out if you have chronic sinus conditions and are eligible for balloon sinuplasty.
Alternative to Antibiotics for Sinus Infections
Our immune system is usually the best line of defense against sinusitis, but there are some things you can do to make pesky symptoms more manageable. For more specialized treatment, like balloon sinuplasty, your first step should be identifying the underlying cause.
Remedies for Minimizing Sinusitis Symptoms
Most symptoms can be handled with home remedies or over the counter medicines. Congestion can be reduced with the use of steam or nasal irrigation to help make breathing easier. A neti pot or even a hot shower can help relieve sinusitis pain as well. Nasal sprays can help keep your sinuses moist which also limits congestion. Read more helpful tips about home remedies on our blog.
These remedies will help short term infections and minor inflammation for a couple of weeks, but if your symptoms aren’t gone by the end of two weeks, you may have a chronic issue.
Remedies for Allergies
Remedies for Recurrent Infections
Treatment for chronic sinusitis is focused on solving the root of the inflammation. Deep inflammation can create blockages in the sinuses that prevent proper healing. When this happens, surgery is often required to remove these blockages.
Removing these blockages can be accomplished by cutting away the inflamed tissue, like in an endoscopic sinus surgery. If the inflammation is blocking sinus openings, the tissue can be reshaped instead of cut away using a procedure called balloon sinuplasty. For a more in depth look at these procedures, click here.
When taken in the right situations, antibiotics are a marvel of medicine. It’s important to make sure we understand when it’s right to take them and when we should avoid them. With sinusitis, there’s always a solution, it’s a matter of finding the right one.