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September 10, 2019


ThedaCare Provider Explains Possible Relief Options

September 10, 2019


ThedaCare Provider Explains Possible Relief Options

NEW LONDON, Wis. – Allergy season puts people at risk for acute sinusitis, the inflammation of the tissue lining the sinuses, which becomes blocked and filled with fluid and mucus.

“We usually see flare-ups with acute sinusitis during allergy season,” said Bryan Hendrickson, MD, family medicine specialist at ThedaCare Physicians-New London. “So there’s an increase in the summer and fall, and then again mid-winter during cold season.”

When congestion and head pain set in, most people want instant relief. Many people tend to think a prescription of antibiotics is necessary. ThedaCare family physicians and pharmacists say we should consider other options.  

“People are putting themselves at risk for adverse reactions to antibiotics like yeast infections, diarrhea and rash,” said ThedaCare Pharmacist Trevor Schmidt, PharmD. “They are accepting the risks but not experiencing the benefits of antibiotics when using them for congestion.”

The CDC estimates more than 90% of acute rhinosinusitis cases are caused by viruses, for which antibiotics are not helpful. Some signs sinusitis may be a bacterial infection (versus viral) include severe or persistent symptoms, losing sense of smell, and pain in the teeth.

“The most recent evidence-based research shows people who took antibiotics with symptoms of sinusitis had no change in their outcomes,” Dr. Hendrickson said. “I tell my patients the first step usually is not antibiotic treatment.”

New recommendations state patients try over-the-counter options for 10 to 14 days, unless there is a fever or the sudden worsening of symptoms. In those cases, see a provider immediately to get checked for a bacterial infection.

ThedaCare providers offer these suggestions for safe relief:

  • Rinse your sinuses. An unappealing, yet effective treatment for acute sinusitis is a nasal rinse, which enables sufferers to use filtered water or a saline solution to flush the nasal cavity, removing unwanted allergens and mucus.
  • Breathe in steam. It’s also helpful to breath in steam to moisten the sinuses. Take a hot shower and sleep with a vaporizer.
  • Try nasal sprays. Nasal sprays calm inflammation. It might take one to two weeks before symptoms clear.
  • Relieve sinus pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs also can be taken to treat the pain brought on by inflammation.
  • Hydrate and avoid sugar. It’s also important to stay hydrated and eat a healthy diet. Sugar tends to worsens inflammation.

“Acute sinusitis can get worse during the first two days,” explained Dr. Hendrickson. “It takes time for inflammation to clear up. Once it does, then symptoms should ease. We look to a 14-day window of time when symptoms should get better. If not, then we consider antibiotics.”

Pharmacist Schmidt explained the concern over antibiotic resistance.

“Every course of antibiotics taken increases a person’s chance of harboring resistance to antibiotics in the future,” he said. “When treating viral illnesses we should steer away from using antibiotics. There is no benefit from taking antibiotics within the first 7 to 10 days of acute sinusitis, unless a provider determines it is severe. Save antibiotic treatment for a time when you really need it.”

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to a community of more than 600,000 residents in 14 counties and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals. ThedaCare has 180 locations including seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, New London, Shawano, Waupaca and Wild Rose. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.

For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

Media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public Relations Specialist at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.