Guide to Antibiotics for Sinus Infections

Authored by R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen in Diseases
Published on 09-02-2009

A sinus infection, also referred to as sinusitis, is a condition in which the nasal passages and sinuses become inflamed. Sinus infections can either occur suddenly, referred to as acute, or last for a prolonged period of time, referred to as chronic. The most common symptoms of a sinus infection include pressure in the nose, eyes or cheek area, or headache or pressure on one side of the head. When a sinus infection gets particularly bad a person may experience thick nasal secretions with nasal congestion, cough, bad breath and fever. There are several treatment methods for sinus infections including antibiotics for sinus infections.

Using antibiotics for sinus infections is necessary to eliminate the bacteria in the sinus cavities. They help to prevent complications, decrease the risk of a chronic sinus infection and to alleviate a person’s symptoms. The type of sinus infection a person has will determine what type of antibiotic is used.

For those with a sinus infection that is uncomplicated and acute they can often take a synthetic penicillin to treat it. Amoxicillin is the most commonly used. Its brand names include Polymox, Amoxil and Trimox. This type antibiotic is used most often because it is relatively inexpensive as well as effective in killing the typical microorganisms that cause sinus infections. However, many people are allergic to penicillin so they will not be able to use it.

Those who are allergic to penicillin and have an uncomplicated and acute sinus infection can be prescribed a sulfur-containing antibiotic for their sinus infection. These antibiotics are called trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMX). Its brand names include Cotrim, Bactrim and Septra. This type of antibiotic is the most commonly prescribed to those who are allergic to penicillin. It is often found equally effective as well. Those who are allergic to sulfur will not be able to take this antibiotic for a sinus infection.

Those who have chronic sinus infections and those who have experienced many bouts of acute sinus infections are at risk for becoming resistant to both TMP/SMX and penicillin. When this occurs they will be prescribed different antibiotics for their sinus infection. These include cephalosporins and newer penicillins. These are capable of clearing up the majority of sinus infections caused by resistant organisms. These antibiotics include Augmentin, Ceftin and Lorabid.

Those who take antibiotics often may become unable to be treated with broad spectrum antibiotics for sinus infections. Some organisms are able to resist just about any antibiotic regardless of how potent it is. When this occurs they will be prescribed antibiotics such as Amoxicillin which is considered a simple antibiotic. They will need to take it for as long as prescribed; typically fourteen to twenty-one days. Once they complete this duration they will take it for an additional week. This antibiotic dosing regimen is effective for most people.

Taking antibiotics for sinus infections is a common treatment method. The majority of patients will be relieved of their sinus infection and its associated symptoms. However, it is inevitable that some patients will need to try a few types of antibiotics and regimens before they find the one that works for them.


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