Why Antibiotics Are Not Always Indicated for Sinus Infections

Discovered in 1928 by Alexander Fleming, penicillin has given humanity an array of antibiotic medicine to treat bacterial infections.

When people experience a sinus infection, often, the symptoms arise as a result of a bacterial infection. However, the bacterial infection might not be the root cause of the problem. Other medical issues, such as a deviated septum, chronic allergies, or enlarged turbinates, might be the reason a patient experiences recurring nasal infections, and as such, using antibiotics as a treatment can be ineffective and even highly detrimental to the patient’s overall health.

In this article, Dr. Schalch Lepe examines the problems with over-prescribing antibiotics and why, in many cases, repeated nasal infections indicate that a patient requires an alternate treatment.

Antibiotic Over-Prescription Concerns

When a colony of bacteria is exposed to a specific type of antibiotic, it generally kills the bacteria. However, in some cases, several bacterial organisms might survive the exposure and continue to reproduce. This gradually leads to varieties of bacteria that are resistant to that specific antibiotic, meaning infections of that bacterial strain can no longer be treated by that antibiotic. This is dangerous, as bacterial infections can be incredibly severe and life-threatening, and is why in most countries, antibiotics require a prescription.

For this same reason, when a patient experiences repeated nasal infections, treating with antibiotics repeatedly can breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Not only is this a concern in and of itself – the repeated infections likely indicate the patient is suffering from some other medical issue that is causing the infections.

Common issues which lead to nasal infections include:

Fortunately, specialized medical experts such as Dr. Schalch Lepe can treat each of these issues in their own right without using antibiotics.

Deviated Septum

Up to 80% of people have a septum that deviates to some degree. While this doesn’t cause an obstruction for many people, in some, this deviation causes a blockage significant enough to trap irritants in the nasal passageway. This leads to a build-up of dust and other foreign bodies, which in turn can lead to irritation and consequent bacterial infection. So, a GP might prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection, which does solve the issue in the short term, but fixing the deviated septum is the long-term solution.

Sinus Drainage Blockage

Chronic allergies result in the overproduction of mucus and swelling of the nasal tissues and drainage pathways of the sinuses. This has a similar effect as the deviated septum,trapping mucus and infection, thus exacerbating the condition, which can then lead to an infection. Treating blockages with balloon sinuplasty or other cutting edge techniques can clear the obstruction without the need for repeated courses of  antibiotics.

Enlarged Turbinates

Turbinates are structures in the nasal air passage that filter and humidify air as it travels from our nose to our lungs. These can become enlarged and hinder the flow of air and cause nasal obstruction. Fortunately, inferior turbinate reduction is a highly effective and and minimally invasive procedure for addressing this bothersome symptom.

Sinus Infection Treatment in San Diego, CA

Dr. Paul Schalch Lepe, an industry-leading board-certified otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist), offers the most cutting-edge, practical, and effective treatment solutions for sinus infections. He thoroughly believes in treating the problem at the root, so the patient doesn’t have to face the issue again.

If you’ve experienced more than one sinus infection in the last 3-6 months, then consider a consultation with Dr. Schalch Lepe to see if the cause is something that can be successfully treated.

Arrange your consultation today by calling (858) 925-5800 or filling out his online form.