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Antibiotics Overprescribed for Acute Rhinosinusitis

Antibiotic use far outweighs predicted incidence of bacterial causes

MONDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Prescription antibiotics and inhaled corticosteroids are probably overprescribed for acute and chronic rhinosinusitis, according to a report in the March issue of Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery.

Hadley Sharp, B.S., from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, and colleagues conducted a prospective study using public data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics between 1999 and 2002. In that time, there were more than 14 million annual visits for chronic rhinosinusitis and more than 3 million annual visits for acute rhinosinusitis.

Although viruses are often the cause of acute rhinosinusitis, the most frequently prescribed medications were antibacterial agents (82 percent of visits), followed by antihistamines; nasal decongestants; corticosteroids; and antitussive, expectorant and mucolytic agents. Antibiotics were prescribed in 70 percent of visits for chronic rhinosinusitis.

"The use of prescription antibiotics far outweighs the predicted incidence of bacterial causes of acute and chronic rhinosinusitis," the authors write. "While keeping the goals of treatment in mind, there are concerns about the overuse of antibiotics and the resultant problems, including drug resistance and increasingly virulent bacteria."

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