Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sham: Antibiotics or Sprays for Sinus Problems Just Don't Work

Yesterday's commentary was about cough medicine and how trials are reporting their ineffectiveness. In today's comments, another journal article reports that routine sinus infections aren't helped by antibiotics and other prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

In this British study, appearing in today's Journal of the American Medical Association people suffering from facial pain and a runny nose with greenish or yellowish mucous generally improved within about two weeks - whether they took the standard antibiotic amoxicillin, steroid nose spray or fake medicine.

The results, based on patients' reporting whether their symptoms had improved, echo previous findings in children. These categories of medicines, sprays and treatments for sinusitis just don't seem to have much going for them, and why they continue to be prescribed by doctors is just amazing. The penicillin-like drug amoxicillin is among the most commonly prescribed medicines for sinus infections.

Steroid sprays sometimes are used, but the study found they also were no better than dummy drugs, although they appeared to provide some relief for patients with only minor symptoms.

Inhaling steam and squirting salt water into the nose to flush out thick mucous are among other methods that sometimes provide relief. One method that wasn't mentioned in the article is the use of an Andrographis/Eleuthero herbal remedy called Kan Jang® (Swedish Herbal Institute) which has a tremendous drying-effect on the nasal passages, as well as an anti-microbial nature.

In this study, researchers randomly assigned 240 adults to receive one of four treatments: 500 milligrams of amoxicillin three times daily for seven days and 400 units of steroid spray for 10 days; only amoxicillin; only steroid spray; or fake medicine. Patients on the drugs didn't get better quicker than those using the placebo.


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