August 08, 2012

Oral Steroids No Help in Sinus Infections?

Media outlets such as Fox News reported yesterday that oral steroids do not help with sinus infections. This claim is based on a small study of 174 patients with clinical symptoms of an acute sinus infection and given either 30 milligrams per day of prednisolone or placebo pills for one week. Of note, antibiotics were not given.

No significant difference in symptom resolution was found.

Now why would one even think to give oral steroids for sinusitis in the first place?

Steroids decrease inflammation and swelling which theoretically would allow for the sinuses to drain more easily and effectively therefore expediting sinusitis resolution.

Also, there have been studies that suggest steroid nasal sprays do help with resolve sinusitis to a certain extent.

Keep in mind that steroids are NOT antibiotics and do not kill the germs that cause an infection. Furthermore, many viral upper respiratory infections are misdiagnosed as sinus infections.

What this study suggests is that at least for acute sinusitis, oral steroids alone do not help resolve an acute sinus infection.

HOWEVER, keep in mind that oral steroids have been shown to help with nasal polyps and chronic sinus infections when given in the setting of antibiotics and sinus surgery.

Oral steroid doesn't clear up sinus infections. Fox News 8/7/12

Systemic corticosteroid monotherapy for clinically diagnosed acute rhinosinusitis: a randomized controlled trial. CMAJ August 7, 2012 First published August 7, 2012, doi: 10.1503/cmaj.120430

Chronic rhinosinusitis: epidemiology and medical management. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011 Oct;128(4):693-707; quiz 708-9. Epub 2011 Sep 3.

Treatment outcomes and predictors for systemic steroids in nasal polyposis. Acta Otolaryngol. 2012 Jun;132 Suppl 1:S82-7.

Intranasal Corticosteroids in Management of Acute Sinusitis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Ann Fam Med May/June 2012 vol. 10 no. 3 241-249

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

Banner Map

Pediatric Neck Masses

Adult Neck Mass Workup