Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sinus Infections and Antibiotics

I have been telling my wife for years that she needs to stop going to the doctor for sinus infections. It is, in the overwhelming majority of cases, no more effective than seeing a physician when you get a cold. Most sinus infections are viral and merely need to run their course. As with a cold, you can simply treat symptoms with over-the-counter medications and suffer through it. Meanwhile, her doctor--and so many other doctors removed from my merely anecdotal experience--continues to prescribe her, with assembly line efficiency, antibiotics and a decongestant. Every time. Never mind the unnecessary cost. Never mind the proliferation of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. If you give someone a drug, regardless of how ineffective it is, that's all that counts.

Finally now, after years of domestic discord, I finally have an advocate in Ohio State University:

As many as 45 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic sinus infections each year. After decades of overprescribing antibiotics, at a cost of billions of dollars, physicians are being asked to reconsider their treatment approach. According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the reasoning is simple. Up to 90 percent of all sinus infections are caused by a virus, which antibiotics can’t treat and can actually make worse by killing healthy bacteria and strengthening the immunity of dangerous bacteria found in the sinus cavity.

So consider this a public service announcement. The next time you have a sinus infection and your doctor wants to prescribe you antibiotics, look the physician right in the eye and ask, "Why do you hate me?" Because malice is the only excuse, except of course for laziness. Which do you suppose is worse?

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