US Pharm. 2008;33(3):11.

Researchers from the University of Southampton, England, revealed that while a topical steroid used in combination with an antibiotic might confer a benefit in treating certain initial, mild symptoms related to a sinus infection, the treatment was no more effective than a placebo in treating acute sinus infections.

"Neither an antibiotic nor a topical steroid alone or in combination are effective in altering the symptom severity, the duration, or natural history of the condition," the researchers said. Their findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. They said that up to 92% of patients with acute sinusitis in Britain and 85% to 98% of patients with the condition in the U.S. receive antibiotics, even though doctors rarely confirm a bacterial infection.

According to Ian G. Williamson, MD, of the University of Southampton, the results of this study were in line with previous research. "Most patients with acute purulent sinusitis recover without antibiotic treatment." However, in the small percentage of sinusitis patients who develop fever, malaise, and an overall poor condition, Dr. Williamson said prescribing an antibiotic may be necessary.

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