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Research Study

Antibiotics and Sinusitis


“A randomised, placebo-controlled trial of antimicrobial treatment for children with clinically diagnosed acute sinusitis.”

According to this study in Paediatrics published in 2001, antibiotics do not help most children with acute sinusitis.

Investigators studied 180 youngsters, aged one to eighteen years, with acute sinusitis. The children were divided into three treatment groups:

  1. amoxicillin
  2. amoxicillin-clavulanate
  3. placebo

The treatment period was fourteen days.


After 14 days:

79% of those taking placebo pills improved

70% percent of the patients on amoxicillin improved

81% of those on amoxicillin-clavulanate improved

Chief investigator, Jane Garbutt, MB, ChB explains:

“Most children with prolonged cold-like symptoms suggestive of acute sinus disease get better within three weeks, without antibiotic therapy. Our study suggests that, for children with uncomplicated acute sinusitis, it makes sense to delay antibiotic treatment and watch carefully…Antibiotics are expensive and can cause side effects, most commonly diarrhoea. Another concern is that they are an important factor in the emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”

Garbutt JM, GoldsteinM, Gellman E, Shannon W, Littenberg B. Paediatrics 2001; 107: 619

    This study indicates that antibiotics should not be the first approach for children with acute sinusitis.

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