Antibiotics not always the best
November 7, 2008 | One billion people a year are diagnosed
with acute or subacute rhinosinusitis in the United
States. Symptoms of this illness include stuffy nose,
tooth pain, and pressure in your face, which can worsen
when you bend forward. Are these symptoms starting to
Rhinosinusitis is the medical term for what the rest
of us know as a sinus infection. The pressures, the
cough, the runny nose, and an achy body all accompany
this illness. Each one of these symptoms complicates
our already busy lives and makes us slow down. In this
day and age, slowing down only means money loss, which
is unacceptable. So what do we do, we go to the doctor
and get an antibiotic to fix it.
Overdoses on antibiotics are happening more and more
and it has got to stop. Antibiotics are not the answer
to every ache and pain in our bodies. According to an
article written by five MD's entitled Acute Sinusitis
and Rhinosinusitis in Adults, 98 percent of adult
patients in the United States are prescribed an antibiotic
when seen for a sinus infection. But 75 percent of all
sinus infections resolve without any treatment in one
Through these statistics we learn that sinus infections
are treated with antibiotics when they are not necessary.
Robert Slack, D.O., is a family practitioner in Highland,
Utah. Slack said he has patients who actually come in
after three to five days of experiencing cold like symptoms
and want an antibiotic to cure their sinus infection.
Not only do they ask for the antibiotics numerous times,
but some patients even demand Slack give them one. They
don't pause and listen to his diagnosis; the patients
assume they already know what is wrong.
"People go to the doctor to get an antibiotic," Slack
said. "They don't go to get educated about how to treat
their illness. It is the expectation of 'I am sick and
have been for two days. I can't afford to be sick anymore.'"
This is the mentality that is affecting Americans
everywhere. It is easier to get an antibiotic that to
slow down and let the human body heal a sinus infection
Antibiotics can harm your body if they are taken too
often, which will also hurt your wallet. According to
Acute Sinusitis and Rhinosinusitis in Adults,
Americans spend $3 billion a year on medications, doctor
visits, tests and procedures to treat their sinus infections.
I have to admit I have been one of those billion people
with a sinus infection and I also wanted an antibiotic
to fix my sickness as quickly as possible. Earlier this
year I had a sinus infection which lasted for over two
months. After two weeks of dealing with the annoying
symptoms, I went to the doctor. He diagnosed me with
a sinus infection and promptly wrote out a prescription
for an antibiotic. I took the medication as prescribed,
but oddly enough, I didn't get better. In fact, it took
another entire month after I had finished the ten day
antibiotic before I felt the infection was completely
Pediatrician Dr. Craig Armstrong has been practicing
medicine for 27 years with 23 of those years being here
in Cache Valley. He agrees prescribing an antibiotic
for a sinus infection is happening too often. Armstrong
also said diagnosing a sinus infection in a child is
much harder than in an adult, and most times involves
expensive tests. A small child can't say where it hurts
or exactly how they hurt, so if the children have had
symptoms such as a runny nose and have been miserable
and fussy for a couple of weeks, doctors assume it's
a sinus infection.
"Moms come in and expect an antibiotic and we give
it," Armstrong said. "They seem to think it works."
Most Americans seem to have this same mind set that
if they are on some type of medication they must be
feeling better, even if the medication really isn't
The world today seems to be all about how fast we
can accomplish our to-do lists. High speed internet,
drive through restaurants, overnight shipping, high
powered transportation, and immediate communication
due to cell phones. With all of these ways to get things
done faster than ever, we seem to have less time than
before. We as American's are running 100 mph and getting
a sinus infection doesn't fit into our schedules. Instead
of slowing down when we get sick and letting the amazing
human body work to heal itself, we run to the doctor
and get an antibiotic to quickly fix it.
"Each person is an individual case," Armstrong said.
"Diagnosing each illness is the art of medicine, not
Antibiotics are not the best way to "fix" a sinus
infection. They are expensive and if used to often can
have repercussions later in life. Listen to your doctor
and the advice they give. Doctors do know what they
are talking about. Don't get caught up in abusing antibiotics
by just assuming they will quickly make you feel better.