By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — If you head to the doctor with a sinus infection, chances are you’ll be given an antibiotic to try to make the congestion go away. But new guidelines recommend doctors stop prescribing drugs so often because they typically don’t work.
Elijah Schachter suffers from chronic sinus infections.
“It usually begins with my sinuses feeling very pressured. So I literally feel pressure in my cheeks and my eyes feel like they’re popping out,” said Elijah.
Nearly one in seven people suffer from sinus infections every year, and they’re often prescribed antibiotics. But new guidelines from the Infectious Diseases Society of America say viruses cause 90 to 98 percent of sinus infections, but antibiotics only fight bacterial infections.
Because it’s hard to tell whether a sinus infection is viral or bacterial, some doctors prescribe antibiotics just in case, and that’s leading to drug-resistant strains of bacteria.
“The antibiotics that used to be offered like the Z-Pack or Amoxicillin just aren’t really effective anymore,” said Dr. Linda Dahl, an Otolaryngologist.
The new guidelines say doctors should wait a little longer to prescribe antibiotics.
“For patients that have very severe symptoms for three to four days with a high fever they recommend immediate or quick treatment with antibiotics, usually with a stronger antibiotic,” said Dr. Dahl.
Elijah is working to control his infections, without antibiotics.
“It’s been a mix of alternative things, but also trying to lead a healthier lifestyle, sleeping more and things like that,” said Elijah.
Experts say hand washing can help fight sinus infections. And they recommend staying away from decongestants and antihistamines, they can make symptoms worse.