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tedibear's avatar

The longer you're ill with an infection before getting an antibiotic, the longer it will take you to recover. True or not?

Asked by tedibear (18909points) October 23rd, 2011

My husband has a sinus infection. It was approximately eight days from when he started to feel sick to when he got an antibiotic. That was Friday. It’s now Sunday and he’s lamenting that he’s not feeling all that much better. He says that he normally feels more like himself after two days of antibiotic. He seems somewhat better to me, though not 100%.

I contend that had he gotten the antibiotic sooner, he would have recovered more quickly. I’m not upset with him for not going to the doctor sooner; it really seemed like a bad cold based on his symptoms.

Any thoughts?

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15 Answers

janbb's avatar

I don’t think that’s true – it’s just that you won’t start to heal until you start the antibiotics. I just had the same thing, went the first morning because I knew it wasbsinuses. It still was five days before I felt better which I thought was unusual, too.

john65pennington's avatar

Sinus infections can be nasty. I had mine operated on many years ago. The blood around my brain had become infected and I was taking the strongest antibiotic known to man.

I surrered a long time, too, without going to a doctor. I tried home remedies that did not work. My problems came from riding a police motorcycle for seven years.

I finally had the surgery and all is well. The surgery only works in 50% of the cases.

Don’t blame him. He’s a man, just like me and we hate to admit failure.

Buttonstc's avatar

Sinus infections can be notoriously difficult regardless of time elapsed or not. There are so many little nooks and crannies and drainage gets blocked up more.

Something more straightforward generally seems to respond quicker because the symptoms decrease is more noticeable.
But patients are always cautioned to take the full course of antibiotics regardless of how quickly one “feels” better.

HungryGuy's avatar

Not true.

It takes about 2 weeks to clear an infection with antibiotics (always finish your medication, even if the infection clears up before it’s used up, otherwise you may end up infected with an antibiotic-resistant strain that will be difficult to treat).

But if left untreated, though, an infection may spread, causing other health problems that will be more difficult to treat.

downtide's avatar

Not really (unless there are secondary infections developing which is likely if you leave it too long), but the recovery won’t start until you start taking the antibiotics.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Sinus infections are absolutely miserable. They can travel and become bronchitis and also pneumonia. Antibiotics don’t always mean quick recovery or guarantee the infection will be completely cleared up.

I am prone to this and have recently become a convert of the mucinex type medicines to help over the sudafed and afrin I used to go to first. For me anyway, making the mucus soft works better than trying to dry and shrink the sinuses. Good luck to your husband, I’m sure he’s majorly uncomfortable and cranky to be over this.

Mariah's avatar

Well, severe infections are much harder to deal with after they’ve progressed than if they’re caught early, but I don’t think it’s a general rule.

filmfann's avatar

The Third day of antibiotics are the days I feel like I turned a corner.

stardust's avatar

I hope not. I’ve been ill for the past week and I do not want to take antibiotics.

saint's avatar

Sinus infections are isolated from the blood stream where the antibiotic chemicals roam. The sinus ( in most cases the maxillary sinus) are isolated in a space where the bugs in question get to act out in an isolated chamber. Sinus infections are tough to control. On the up side, they are limited in how far they can expand. The course may be unpleasant, but they are self limiting. Patience and medication rule the day. 10 days to 2 weeks and it will be over.

CaptainHarley's avatar

That will vary greatly from person to person. Some people seem to have these super-immune systems which destroy infection without any assistance every time. Others seem to have weakened immune systems which make them susecptible to a wide variety of infections. It’s very difficult to make generalizations, but generally speaking, the sooner you start fighting off an infection, the sooner it will be gone.

Kayak8's avatar

There are a number of pathogenic organisms (bacteria, protozoa, fungi, viruses, etc.). Of these, only bacteria are helped by antibiotics. Delaying delivery on antibiotics for the others makes no difference at all. So the first step is determining which type of organism it is.

Getting the correct antibiotic for a bacteria in a timely fashion can speed the time until one feels better (often well before completing the course of antibiotics, so keep taking them). Getting the wrong antibiotics won’t help. This is why broad-spectrum antibiotics are usually provided as a first line and more specific antibiotics are provided for bacterial infections that are not responsive to the broad-spectrum stuff.

Sinus infections are often caused by bacteria, but not always. And bacterial infections can sometimes be accompanied by other pathogen types that do not respond to the antibiotics given for the bacterial infection.

ETpro's avatar

As @Kayak8 and others have noted, the body can defend itself against many, but not all infections. For those that the body can fight off naturally, the time for antibiotics to help speed the process probably decreases with time from onset of the illness. If you wait a few days, your body is already producing antigens and the antibiotic just helps speed recovery. Other bacteria are stealth fighters with the ability to avoid the body’s natural defenses. With these, antibiotics are the only cure, and the sooner they are begun the better. Allowing the infection to spread throughtout the body and penetrate areas hard to treat with antibiotics could be the difference between complete recovery, permanent impairment or even death. So the take home is, if you don’t know the specific nature of the bug that’s plaguing you, see the doctor as soon as possible.

Another note. While antibiotics can work wonders against bacteria, they are useless in fighting viruses. Sinusitis can result from a viral, bacterial or fungal infection, and also from allergies and autoimmunity issues. How to best treat sinusitis is entirely dependent on what’s causing the flareup.

When patients go to the doctor with a cold (viral infection) or non-microbial sinus infection and demand an antibiotic the doctor will often prescribe one. More money for her, and the placebo effect may even help the patient. But every time we do that we are allowing whatever bacteria happen to be in our body in even trace amounts at that time the possibility to evolve immunity to yet another antibiotic. That, and the overuse of antiseptic cleansers are what have lead to the emergence of MRSA and other drug resistant pathogens. Leave it up to the doctor to decide the best treatment option. Don’t self diagnose.

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tedibear's avatar

Many thanks for all of the answers! He is feeling more like a human being. It took about six days of antibiotic for him to get to that point.

I now have a cold. I suggest that you all but stock in whoever makes Puffs with lotion.

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