Springtime brings out the flowers, the pollinating trees, and the usually happy to see you pets being walked around our neighborhoods. But for many of you this time of year, you feel like you are under water, or your eyes are going to pop out of your head, your upper teeth might explode, or your head if full of cement. These are just a few of the sensations we get when our sinuses are causing us problems. But is it just allergies or is it an infection? We can help you determine that.
It is not too infrequently that we see patients on video basically begging that something gets done to help relieve the discomfort. Often asking for antibiotics to take care of my sinus infection. However, did you know that less than 2% of all sinus issues in adults with symptoms of less than 4 weeks duration are believed to be caused by a bacteria? So antibiotics will not help about 98 out of every 100 adults presenting to a health care provider with acute sinus problems.
So what is causing all that discomfort? Most of the time it is viral or allergic, relatively unlikely bacterial, and very rarely fungal.
Multiple guidelines from various medical societies have been published over the years on recommendations regarding who might have a bacterial infection and who might not. These guidelines occasionally differ a bit but the two most commonly referenced ones come from the Infectious Disease Society of American (IDSA) and the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery Foundation.
At Care on Location, we believe in practicing evidence based medicine and avoiding inappropriate use of antibiotics for reasons running from bacterial resistance, to side effects and allergic reactions, to unnecessary added costs of healthcare from any of the preceding. Each of our providers has access to the guidelines, which in the case of sinus complaints, follows the guidelines of the societies mentioned above.
The guideline that we use to identify those most at risk of a bacterial sinus infection include:
Multiple other factors play into the decision to use antibiotics or not but for patients without significant risk factors for bacterial infection, the above three items can generally be used a good guide to whether or not they are needed.
If antibiotics do not seem like they are going to be of much help, there are multiple other options to try and calm things down:
We feel your pain. Hopefully, some of the above information will help provide you some relief. We are always happy to evaluate you for the determination of the best treatment method for your individual situation and to determine if antibiotics are needed. To be seen by one of emergency medicine, family medicine, or internal medicine trained clinicians, CLICK HERE to be taken to request care.