Sinusitis affects about one in eight adults in the US, and this translates into over 30 million annual diagnoses. With a cost of $11 billion per year for managing adult sinusitis, it is no surprise that a large part of this cost comes from antibiotic therapy. In fact, nearly one in five antibiotics prescribed for adults are for sinusitis, making it the fifth most common condition responsible for antibiotic therapy.

Yet a new guide published by The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery has recently made changes for ENT specialists that will affect those figures concerning antibiotic therapy. To better serve those with sinusitis, the guide recommends improved doctor-patient communication as the key to offering other methods besides antibiotics that have similar results.

To further hammer this point home about doctor-patient relations, this updated clinical practice guideline identifies quality improvements, and makes explicit actionable recommendations for clinicians managing adult sinusitis, including a greater focus on patient education and patient preference as part of the larger equation.

Of recent, there has been a trend in getting medical professionals to improve the lack of communication between the practitioner and the patient, and those in the medical field are taking notice. Thus, it isn’t surprising to read about a new guideline on managing adult sinusitis by having better communication.  In this essential guide, Richard M. Rosenfeld, MD, MPH, explained, “More than ever before, there is a prominent role for shared decision-making between patients and clinicians when managing adult sinusitis–especially in deciding whether to use antibiotics for acute bacterial sinusitis or to instead try ‘watchful waiting’ to see if a patient can fight the infection on his or her own.”

Besides being more restrained in prescribing antibiotics, Dr. Rosenfeld also emphasized the importance of shared decisions regarding sinusitis symptom relief options such as pain relievers, topical intranasal steroids, and nasal saline irrigation.

Other differences between the 2007 guideline and the 2015 update include:

  • more explicit details about the role of alternatives to antibiotics;
  • more recommendations for amoxicillin with or without clavulanate when antibiotics are prescribed, while the prior guideline recommended amoxicillin alone;
  • more discussion about the management of acute and chronic sinusitis, including other procedures.

This clinical guideline for managing adult sinusitis was updated by a multi-disciplinary panel of experts in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, infectious disease, family medicine, allergy and immunology, advanced practice nursing, and a consumer advocate.