IDSA releases first rhinosinusitis guidelines, helps doctors distinguish between bacterial and viral cause.
EMBARGOED FOR MARCH 21, 2012, ARLINGTON, Va.] – The vast majority of sinus infections are caused by viruses and should not be treated with antibiotics, suggest new guidelines released by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).
Nearly one in seven people are diagnosed with a sinus infection each year. Although sinus infections are the fifth leading reason for antibiotic prescriptions, 90 to 98 percent of cases are caused by viruses, which are not affected by antibiotics. Used inappropriately, antibiotics foster the development of drug-resistant superbugs.
“There is no simple test that will easily and quickly determine whether a sinus infection is viral or bacterial, so many physicians prescribe antibiotics ‘just in case,'” said Anthony W. Chow, MD, chair of the guidelines panel and professor emeritus of infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. “However, if the infection turns out to be viral – as most are – the antibiotics won’t help and in fact can cause harm by increasing antibiotic resistance, exposing patients to drug side effects unnecessarily and adding cost.”