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Antibiotic fails sinus infection test

Medicine doesn’t clear up blocked sinuses any better than placebo, study finds

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5:15pm, February 14, 2012

Anyone who has felt the pressure of a weeklong sinus infection won’t be happy to hear it, but a study finds that a commonly prescribed medicine doesn’t clear up such attacks any better than the body does on its own.

The findings, in the Feb. 15 Journal of the American Medical Association, don’t apply to people who have chronic sinus infections lasting 28 days or more. But people with trademark signs of an acute sinus infection — yucky drainage, facial pressure, sore teeth, congestion and headache for a full week — overall fared no better with antibiotics than did people getting inert pills, scientists at Washington University in St. Louis report.

“This struck me as a very well-designed, -conducted and -analyzed study,” says James Hughes, an infectious disease physician at Emory University in Atlanta. “It adds to evidence [showing] that in most patients with acute sinus infections, antibiotics don’t add value.”

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