Are Antibiotics Causing Your Sinus Infections?

Sinus infections are the worst! Often coupling with pressure, headaches, migraines, sneezing, and fever. Many say they suffer from sinus infection about every three months, each time rushing out to their physician and being provided a prescription for antibiotics. But what if antibiotics are altogether ineffective against sinus infections? The Huffington Post reported on a study published by Infectious Diseases Society of America, “Turns out, anywhere from 90 to 98 percent of the infections aren’t caused by bacteria, meaning antibiotics won’t work.” That’s an overwhelming amount of people being provided the wrong diagnosis and the wrong treatment.

Why are doctors over prescribing antibiotics?

“There is no simple test that will easily and quickly determine whether a sinus infection is viral or bacterial, so many physicians prescribe antibiotics ‘just in case,'” guidelines panel chair Dr. Anthony W. Chow, MD, a professor emeritus of infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, explained in a statement.

This isn’t exactly true and there could be various reasons why a doctor is unnecessarily prescribing antibiotics. The simplest explanation is most likely that the physician is “just airing on the side of caution”, and considers it safer to write a script in case your infection is bacterial and able spread to more people. This is not best practice! Think about it, your physician is basically guessing and the odds aren’t even in her favor. For sinus infections, we already know that 9 out of 10 do not require antibiotics. So what’s the real reason doctors might be doing this?are antibiotics causing my sinus infections, 10 causes of sinus infection

The ugly truth is that taking blood and urine samples take time; and having those samples tested by a lab takes even more time. And time is money in the medical field. The quicker a health care professional can get you on your way, the more patients she can see and the more people she can help. In this case, however, helping is actually hurting. When antibiotics are over prescribed it puts everyone at risk for infection. Overuse of antibiotics has been linked directly to an increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria, in other words, when we take antibiotics unnecessarily we are making our immune systems weaker and bacterial strands stronger.

In a 2015 article, PubMed reports doctors being given stricter guidelines for prescribing antibiotics. Here’s what they had to say about antibiotic resistance:

“Bacteria evolve in response to their environment. Over time, they can develop mechanisms to survive a course of antibiotic treatment.

This “resistance” to treatment starts as a random mutation in the bacteria’s genetic code, or the transfer of small pieces of DNA between bacteria. If the mutations are favourable to them, they are more likely to survive treatment, more likely to be able to replicate and therefore more likely pass on their resistant nature to future generations of bacteria. 

When taken correctly, antibiotics will kill most non-resistant bacteria, so these resistant strains can become the dominant strain of a bacteria. This means when people become infected, existing treatments may be unable to stop the infections.”

Do I have a sinus infection?

Determining the nature of your infection isn’t as difficult as physicians lead on. A urine culture or blood culture will easily determine whether your infection is viral or bacterial. These tests are absolutely necessary if your doctor believes you have an infection and recommends treatment with antibiotics. Be a good steward of your health and your communities’ health by asking your doctor few questions before filling your prescription:

  1. You’re prescribing me an antibiotic, are you certain I have a bacterial infection?

  2. How are you certain I have a bacterial infection without performing a urine or blood culture?

  3. How will antibiotics help me get better if they are ineffective against viral infections?

  4. Can you recommend natural alternatives for preventing and treating sinus infections?

If you find yourself battling multiple sinus infections each year our advice is to turn to preventative and proactive health habits. As holistic health practitioners we recommend taking a step back. Before exploring treatments it’s important to explore what might be causing repetitive sinus infections.

10 Causes of Sinus Infection or Sinusitis

  1. Common cold being treated with antibiotics and subsequently morphing into a sinusitis

  2. Weather and pet related allergies (pollen, dander)

  3. Food related allergies (dairy, gluten)

  4. Diet high in inflammation causing foods (sugar, meat, salt, alcohol, coffee)

  5. Airborne toxins and chemicals (pollution, cleaning supplies, mold)

  6. A suppressed immune system (caused by overtaking antibiotics, autoimmune diseases, or subluxation)

  7. Birth trauma

  8. Poor nasal hygiene

  9. Stress

  10. Smoking

Always consider drugs and surgery as a last resort, a last line of defense. Analyze your own lifestyle to determine what you may be doing to contribute to your poor health. Begin eliminating bad habits, even better, replace bad habits with good habits.