New guidelines recommend wait-and-see strategy for sinus infections

Sinus infections may be better off left alone, according to new medical guidelines from the American Academy of Otolaryngology.

The organization strengthened its recommendation that sinus infections are only marginally improved by using antibiotics.

Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, chairman of otolaryngology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, told The Wall Street Journal that antibiotics and watching symptoms are both recommended strategies for managing acute bacterial sinusitis. The guidelines suggest patients wait for up to 17 days to see if an infection improves on its own. If it persists, then they recommend antibiotic therapy.

Rosenfeld cited an analysis of clinical trials which found that 86% of patients taking a placebo had their sinusitis improve in one to two weeks compared with 91% of patients taking antibiotics.