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Stop prescribing antibiotics for sinus infections, pharmacists urged

Tuesday 31st October 2017
NICE and Public Health England want to see fewer antibiotic prescriptions for sinus infections. Image: LittleBee80 via iStock
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Pharmacists should not be authorising the prescription of antibiotics to treat sinus infections, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has ruled.

Along with Public Health England, NICE has published new guidance on prescribing antibiotics for more minor illnesses, which states that the majority of sinus infections will eventually disappear on their own and can be managed with paracetamol instead.

GPs and pharmacists alike are being advised to tell their patients to only seek further medical advice if their symptoms worsen or if they are showing no signs of clearing up after more than three weeks.

NICE is encouraging pharmacists to clamp down on antibiotic prescriptions for ailments such as sore throats and sinus pain, as antibiotic resistance is becoming an increasing problem across the world.

The rate of new medicines being discovered is not keeping pace with the rate at which viruses are becoming resistant to antibiotics, meaning they are less effective at treating minor illnesses due to overuse.

As a result, there is a risk that continuing to prescribe them for minor infections could lead to people dying from illnesses that should be easily curable, in conditions reminiscent of medieval times.

However, if prescriptions are significantly reduced now, this doesn't have to be the case, and scientists are constantly working to try and find new medicines too.

Dr Tessa Lewis, chair of the managing common infections guidance committee at NICE, commented: "Most people with sinus infections will recover in a couple of weeks without needing any antibiotics.

"Health professionals can help their patients cope with this infection and the sometimes unpleasant symptoms it can cause. They should tell them that they'll probably be feeling this way for a while and that, unless they are very unwell, the best thing to do is to take paracetamol and 'take it easy'."

Written by James Puckle

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