It is a common scenario in an otolaryngology office: A patient with nasal congestion and a sinus headache wants an antibiotic to eradicate the problem-and quickly. The clinician must often make a judgment call. Should the physician treat empirically with an antibiotic, possibly due to pressure from the patient, or should the physician encourage the patient to explore other options first?
Explore this issue:October 2008
The correct answer has several components: Identifying the appropriate treatment involves a series of further questions, and even then, there is more than one good approach. Further, the decision to treat bacterial sinusitis with antibiotics or not is a balancing act between more rapid healing and the risk of promoting antibiotic-resistant organisms, particularly methycillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
In separate phone interviews, two experts discussed the latest thinking about treating bacterial sinusitis with antibiotics.