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Antibiotics can be taken orally or intravenously (IV).
Antibiotics kill or prevent the growth of bacteria that cause some sinus infections.
When using antibiotics to treat acute sinusitis, it may be helpful to remember that:
When using antibiotics to treat chronic (long-term) sinusitis, it may be helpful to remember that:
Antibiotics may be needed when symptoms of sinusitis do not respond to home treatment, symptoms are severe, or complications (such as pus forming in sinus cavities) develop.
Other antibiotics may be prescribed to treat bacterial infections that are resistant to amoxicillin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.
Antibiotic treatment of sinusitis is generally safe and very effective. Most people recover completely when they are treated with antibiotics. Taking antibiotics properly cures bacterial sinusitis in about 90 out of 100 people.1 This means that the treatment doesn't work for 10 out of 100 people.
The risk of side effects may be greater with certain antibiotics.
Common but mild side effects include:
Diarrhea and vaginal yeast infections may occur when antibiotics destroy some of the normal and necessary bacteria that live in the body. Eating yogurt may help prevent some of these side effects.
Rare and sometimes serious side effects of antibiotics include:
Levofloxacin increases the risk of a tendon rupture or other tendon damage. If you have sudden pain or swelling around your ankle, shoulder, elbow, or hand while taking one of these medicines, tell your doctor. Do not exercise until your doctor says it is okay.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
It is important to take all of the medicine your doctor prescribes. Keep taking it even after you begin to feel better. This is especially important when treating sinusitis because the antibiotics do not easily penetrate the mucus inside the sinuses.
If you are having trouble taking the medicines as prescribed (because of side effects or other reasons), contact your doctor.
Your doctor will try to select an antibiotic that is most likely to kill the bacteria causing your sinusitis. If the antibiotic fails to cure your sinusitis, another may be tried. If your condition does not improve, further testing may be needed to find which antibiotic will work best for you.
Last Revised: May 9, 2011
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