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Originally published July 9 2008

Steroid Nasal Sprays, Antibiotics Found Useless For Sinus Infections

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Antibiotics and steroid nasal sprays provide little or no benefit for patients with sinus infections, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Southampton, England, and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Between the years of 2001 and 2005, researchers studied 240 adults with sinus infections, dividing them into four groups. One group was treated with both an antibiotic (amoxicillin) and a steroid nasal spray, one group received only the antibiotic and a placebo nasal spray, one received a placebo pill and a steroid nasal spray, and one received two placebos. The steroid used was budesonide, with a dose taken in each nostril.

The researchers found that after 10 days, approximately one-third of the people in all four groups still had symptoms. The researchers analyzed the effectiveness of the treatments individually, finding the persistence of symptoms to be 29 percent among those who had received the antibiotic and 33 percent among those who had not, and 31 percent among those who had received the nasal spray and 31 percent among those who had not.

"Our main conclusions are that among patients with the typical features of acute bacterial sinusitis, neither an antibiotic nor a topical steroid alone or in combination are effective in altering the symptom severity, the duration, or the natural history of the condition," the researchers wrote.

They noted that the nasal spray did appear to be more useful for patients with less severe symptoms.

Many nasal infections are caused by viruses, which are not affected by antibiotics. Nevertheless, prescription of antibiotics for nasal infections is still widespread, ranging from 85 to 98 percent in the United States and 92 percent in the United Kingdom.

"Wide-scale overtreatment is likely occurring," the researchers wrote.

In an accompanying commentary, Dr. Morten Lindbaek of the University of Oslo, Norway said that telling patients to wait a week before filling their antibiotic prescriptions has been found to be an effective means of reducing drug overuse.

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