A study published in the most recent Journal of The American Medical Association (JAMA) documented another area where antibiotics can do more harm than good.

“Researchers at Washington University’s med school worked with a bunch of primary care doctors around St. Louis to test whether an antibiotic was any better than a placebo for the treatment of run-of-the-mill sinus infections. Half the patients got amoxicillin and the rest got a sugar pill.

Almost all the 166 people got offered the other remedies to relieve symptoms, and most took advantage of a least some of them. That was true whether they got the antibiotic or not.”

The results were that there was *no difference* between the antibiotic and sugar pill groups! Researchers were not surprised that there was no difference at ten days since most sinus infections, whether viral or bacterial resolve themselves by ten days anyway. What did surprise the researchers was that there was also no change after three days when antibiotics would be expected to kick in!

Antibiotics have side effects, sometimes severe. Overuse of antibiotics is creating strains of “superbacteria” that aren’t killed by antibiotics. Unfortunately patients often go to their Medical doctors with sinus infections and ask to be given antibiotics. Too often their MDs will give antibiotics even though they know that about 98% of sinus infections are caused by viruses (for which antibiotics are useless) rather than bacteria.

The researchers are hoping this latest study will give Medical doctors some solid research to help convince their patients that antibiotics are not the right treatment for the vast majority of sinus infections.

You can read a recent NPR story on this research at:


On the other hand, nasal rinsing (see my article “Wash your hands and……” available on the Hogg Chiropractic Center Facebook page or ask for a copy next time you come to the office) has been proven to both help prevent airborne viral infections and to speed recovery if you do get an infection. The bonus is that there are no side effects!