Sinus Infections

Do You Really Need Antibiotics for a Sinus Infection?

August 21, 2017

3 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

Fall is finally around the corner, but the cooler weather comes at a cost: annoying allergies. You’re likely familiar with congestion, coughing and sinus pain, sinus infections are uncomfortable affairs. Many of our patients ask, “Do you need antibiotics for a sinus infection?” As tempting as it may be to rush to your doctor for some antibiotics, doing so might not effectively treat the real cause of your sinusitis.

If your sinus infections last longer than 2-3 weeks, or if you have several sinus infections per year, antibiotics are not the most effective and long-lasting treatment. To understand if you need antibiotics for a sinus infection, it’s first helpful to know what happens when you have a sinus infection.

What Happens When You Have a Sinus Infection

Healthy sinuses have unblocked passageways that humidify and purify the air that your body needs to survive. Allergies, the common cold, or other illnesses can block these passageways. Blocked sinuses can cause:

Prolonged or Severe Sinus Infections: Chronic Sinusitis

However, if your symptoms linger for weeks, or even years, a doctor may diagnose you with chronic sinusitis. Acute or chronic sinusitis is a common condition—an estimated 37 million Americans suffer from sinusitis every year. Among the most common causes of chronic sinusitis are allergies, nasal polyps, deviated septum and respiratory tract infections. Over-the-counter medications may not provide relief for sufferers of chronic sinusitis. When this happens, a doctor may prescribe a number of different treatments, including antibiotics.

You Probably Don’t Need Antibiotics for Sinus Infections or Sinusitis

If you were wondering whether you needed antibiotics for a sinus infection, here’s why antibiotics are rarely the right treatment for chronic sinusitis. According to the CDC, 9 out of 10 sinus infections are caused by viruses, while only 1 out of 10 cases of sinusitis are caused by bacterial infections. Antibiotics can only treat bacterial infections, and therefore an antibiotic treatment will not be effective for most sinus infections caused by chronic sinusitis.

For people with chronic sinusitis, taking antibiotics to clear up as many as four sinus infections a year can have some unintended long term consequences. The more often you take antibiotics for basic illnesses, the worse your body becomes at actually fighting them off. Not only will your sinus infections keep coming back, the effectiveness of antibiotics against other, more serious infections could become compromised.

Long Term Solutions for Chronic Sinusitis

Fortunately, chronic sinusitis does not have to be a permanent condition. If you are suffering or believe that you may be suffering with chronic sinusitis, Balloon Sinuplasty may be the best solution for you. Balloon Sinuplasty is a minimally invasive surgery that reshapes your anatomy to allow your sinuses to drain properly.

As one of Houston’s leading providers of Balloon Sinuplasty, Dr. Kaplan of Kaplan Sinus Relief can help provide you with effective, long term relief from sinusitis. Kaplan Sinus Relief even offers IV sedation for enhanced comfort during your Balloon Sinuplasty experience. Schedule a consultation today to discuss how Kaplan Sinus Relief can help relieve your chronic sinusitis.


4101 Greenbriar Street, Suite 320

Houston, TX 77098