Antibiotics no more effective than placebo in treating sinus infections, study finds

Source: Journal of the American Medical Association; Science Daily

A recent study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis recently found that placebos can be just as effective as antibiotics in treating symptoms of basic sinus infections. Researchers studied the effects of the antibiotic amoxicillin and of inactive placebos on 166 adult patients with acute sinus infection (defined by moderate, severe or very severe symptoms, such as pain or tenderness in face and sinuses and nasal discharge lasting 7-28 days). Participants for this randomized controlled trial were recruited from 10 community health practices in Missouri. The findings show that after 10 days of taking amoxicillin or placeboes three times per day—as well as a 5- to 7-day supply of treatments for symptoms to use as needed—participants from both groups reported improvements in health. Neither group reported symptom improvement by day 3, and the amoxicillin group reported improvements by day 7 (earlier than the placebo group). But by day 10, both groups had reported improved symptoms. To decrease the number of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions written for sinus infections, the authors suggest that doctors first treat symptoms (e.g., pain, cough and congestion) and later determine if further treatment or antibiotics is needed.