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Sinusitis and Antibiotics

Read more about Antibiotics.

Effect of Antibiotics on Sinusitis

Cases of acute sinusitis usually get better on their own, without the use of antibiotics. In fact, studies have shown that antibiotics are not effective in treating acute sinusitis.

However, in some cases, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to kill the bacteria that cause sinusitis.

There are many types of antibiotics available for the treatment of sinusitis. In cases of acute sinusitis, amoxicillin or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole is usually tried first because they are cost effective. If you're allergic to either drug, cephalosporin (eg, cefuroxime) or a macrolide antibiotic (clarithromycin, azithromycin) is used.

If there is no symptomatic improvement after one week, a stronger antibiotic is used, such as amoxicillin-clavulanate, quinolone (eg, ciprofloxacin), or cephalosporin (eg, cefuroxime). After 3-4 weeks without a response, clindamycin or metronidazole is added. Oral or nasal decongestants may be added to allow drainage of the sinuses. If antibiotics fail to bring about improvement, you may be hospitalized and given intravenous antibiotics, which is usually accompanied by surgical drainage.

In cases of chronic or recurrent sinusitis, your doctor may do an endoscopic procedure to drain the obstructed sinuses and remove a sample of tissue for testing. Based on the results of this testing, your doctor can prescribe an appropriate antibiotic for you.

How to Use Antibiotics

If you are given an antibiotic, you’ll need to take it for 10-14 days, or longer if you have chronic sinusitis.

Side Effects and Warnings

Possible side effects include:

  • Allergic reactions, such as rash, itchy skin, difficulty breathing—Get help if any of these occurs. For breathing difficulties, get emergency care.
  • Diarrhea —This may be severe; in which case, call your doctor.
  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach upset
  • Decreased effectiveness of oral contraceptives—Use another form of contraception while you are taking these medications.
  • Bleeding problems—Check with your doctor if you notice easy bruising, increased bleeding, or spontaneous bleeding.


Effect of Beta-lactam on Sinusitis

Common names for Beta-lactam include: Amoxicillin (Amoxil, Polymox, Trimox, Wymox) Amoxicillin-Clavulanate (Augmentin) Cephalexin (Keflex) Cefadroxil (Duricef, Ultracef)...

Read more about Sinusitis and Beta-lactam.

Effect of Fluoroquinolone on Sinusitis

Common names for Fluoroquinolone include: Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) Levofloxacin (Levaquin) Sparfloxacin (Zagam) Gemifloxacin (Factive) Gatifloxacin (Tequin) Moxifloxacin...

Read more about Sinusitis and Fluoroquinolone.

Effect of Macrolides and Azalides on Sinusitis

Common names include: Erythromycin Azithromycin (Zithromax) Clarithromycin (Biaxin) Roxithromycin (Rulide) Always take these medicines with a full glass of water. While...

Read more about Sinusitis and Macrolides and Azalides.

Effect of Tetracyclines on Sinusitis

Common names include: Tetracycline Doxycycline Minocycline Be sure to take tetracycline with food to avoid stomach upset. Wait two hours between taking antacids or milk and...

Read more about Sinusitis and Tetracyclines.

Effect of Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole on Sinusitis

Common brand names include: Bactrim Cotrim Septra

Read more about Sinusitis and Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole.

Types of Antibiotics for Sinusitis


Common names for Beta-lactam include:

  • Amoxicillin (Amoxil, Polymox, Trimox, Wymox)
  • Amoxicillin-Clavulanate (Augmentin)
  • Cephalexin (Keflex)
  • Cefadroxil (Duricef, Ultracef)
  • Cefaclor (Ceclor)
  • Cefuroxime (Ceftin)
  • Cefpodoxime (Vantin)
  • Loracarbef (Lorabid)
  • Cefditoren (Spectracef)
  • Cefixime (Suprax)
  • Ceftibuten (Cedex)
  • Meropenem (Merrem)
  • Imipenem/cilastatin (Primaxin)