Medicine in the News

When Do You Need Antibiotics for a Sinus Infection?

Signs of Bacterial Sinus Infections

Medicine in the News

cold symptoms sinus infection
Image: © Dirima

Diagnosis Life keeps you in the know with the latest in health and wellness. Here are three of the hottest medical stories making the rounds, in simple terms.

  1. Is your sinus infection caused by a bacteria or a virus?

    Diagnosis Life summary:
    Not all sinus infections are created equal. Some can be caused by viruses, others by bacteria. It’s important to understand the difference because antibiotics do NOT treat viruses. Unfortunately, the only way to find out what kind of infection you have is to perform a culture on the sinus fluid. Unfortunately, collecting that fluid can be challenging and it takes several days to get the results back. A study in the Annals of Family Medicine (DOI:10.1370/afm.2354) tried to establish clinical guidelines to make it easier for your doctor to diagnosis one over the other at the time of your visit. Looking at data from 17 different studies, the researchers found these 7 findings to be most helpful: 1) preceding cold symptoms 2) a past history for sinusitis, 3) tenderness over the maxillary sinus, 4) maxillary toothache, 5) purulent (yellow or green) nasal discharge, 6) fetid odor of the breath, and 7) an elevated C-reactive protein lab test. That does not mean that having one guarantees a bacterial infection, but having more than one increases the odds, in which case you may need antibiotics.

  2. The American College of Physicians discourages mammograms for women in their 40s.

    Diagnosis Life summary:
    Not everyone agrees how often women should be screened for breast cancer. The  American College of Physicians recently released their updated guidelines for women at average risk for breast cancer. For women 40 to 49, they claim the risks of mammogram screening outweigh the benefits. For women 50 to 74, they recommend screening every other year. For women 75 and older or when life expectancy is expected to be less than 10 years, they discourage screening altogether. This is in accordance with recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and of course, does not apply to women at high risk, i.e., women who have a family or personal history for breast cancer. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Cancer Society, however, recommend screening for women at average risk starting in their 40s.

  3. Sitting for long periods of time hurts your metabolism even if you exercise.

    Diagnosis Life summary:
    As long as you exercise regularly, there’s no need to worry about sitting so much at your desk job, right? Not so fast. It depends on what ou mean by regularly. A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology (DOI:10.1152/japplphysiol.00968.2018) found that “people who sat for long periods and took fewer than 4,000 steps a day developed metabolic problems, even if they exercised.” There are many metabolic benefits to exercise, including decreasing your triglyceride levels, blood sugar, and insulin sensitivity. These researchers found that study participants did not show these benefits if they sat most of the day for four days before exercise (an hour on the treadmill). Essentially, they were considered resistant to exercise. This is why it is important to stay active every day or at least increase that step count!

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