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Sinus Issues Author: Staff Editor Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

Sinus Infections Can Be Difficult to Treat if You are Allergic to Penicillin

By Staff Editor
Jan 7, 2014 - 3:52:15 PM

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What you need to know if you or your kids are allergic to penicillin

( - Sinus infections are a common concern this time of year. From sneezing to sniffling to an aching head, sinus infections can be very debilitating. And successful treatment of these infections can be tricky if the patient is allergic to penicillin.  

Board-certified otolaryngologist Dr. Jordan Pritikin says, "Most sinus infections are caused by strep bacteria species. A number of antibiotics that are used to treat sinus infections are in the penicillin family. Yet around one in ten people report a history of a penicillin allergy. For such people, antibiotics cannot be used." Cephalosporin antibiotics (such as Ceftin or Suprax) are structurally similar to penicillin and should be avoided by people with a penicillin allergy.

Fortunately, there are other medications which can be used to treat a sinus infection. Sulfa-based antibiotics (such as Bactrim) can be used in penicillin-allergic patients, but these antibiotics can also trigger an allergic reaction. Furthermore, Sulfa antibiotics can cause a rash with sun exposure, upset stomach, nausea and dizziness. "All antibiotics have the potential to cause side effects," says Dr. Pritikin. "So, we take steps to minimize these side effects. Taking antibiotics with food, using a probiotic to maintain the normal bacteria of the digestive tract and discarding old and expired ‘left-over' antibiotics are all recommended."

Another option is skipping antibiotics taken by mouth altogether and going right to the source of the problem. "Some patients may be candidates for use of an antibiotic nasal irrigation, which delivers antibiotics right to the site of the infection," continues Dr. Pritikin. This method, while effective for many patients, is still being evaluated and optimal dosing has not been determined. "We are still trying to figure out how to deliver the right medication in the right dose to treat these infections," says Dr. Pritikin, "but this method allows us to use antibiotics that would not otherwise be available for oral therapy."

About Dr. Jordan Pritikin:

Dr. Jordan Pritikin is a board-certified otolaryngologist at Chicago Nasal & Sinus Center, a private medical practice devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of nasal and sinus disorders. Dr. Pritikin is a Fellow of the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery and attended Rush Medical College in Chicago, where he was selected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Medical Society. Over the years, Dr. Pritikin has cultivated an interest in Rhinology, focusing his practice on diseases of the nose and sinuses, and has participated in clinical research exploring innovative therapies for chronic sinusitis. He has lectured at local and national meetings, developed informational and training videos demonstrating surgical techniques for the nose and sinuses, and has helped develop and refine instruments designed for sinus surgery. Dr. Pritikin and the Chicago Nasal & Sinus Center offer patients an unparalleled level of service, utilizing state-of-the art technology and innovative treatments while maintaining a thoughtful and caring approach. For more information visit


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