Antibiotics should not be routinely prescribed for sinusitis, says new guidance, developed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England.
According to NICE, data have shown that antibiotics are given to 91% of people who visit their GP with sinusitis. But, in most cases, people who have sinusitis will start to feel better within two to three weeks and, as infections are usually viral, antibiotics are often not the appropriate course of treatment.
Instead, the guidance, which aims to limit antibiotic use and reduce antimicrobial resistance, says that healthcare professionals should advise their patients on how to manage their aches and pains with paracetamol and, a “back-up prescription” should only be considered if the patient has had symptoms for more than 10 days.
“We know that most people with sinus infections will recover in a couple of weeks without needing any antibiotics, but that doesn’t mean we should be sending them home without any information or advice,” said Tessa Lewis, a GP and chair of the managing common infections guidance committee.
“Health professionals can help their patients cope with this infection and the sometimes unpleasant symptoms it can cause. They should tell them that they will probably be feeling this way for a while, and that unless they are very unwell, the best thing to do is to take paracetamol and ‘take it easy’,” she added.
Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive at NICE said that the new guidance would help healthcare professionals use antibiotics efficiently and only when they are really needed.
“Antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest dangers to our health, which is why we must all work together to fight it,” she added.