It is recommended that patients consult with their primary care physicians before taking colloidal silver
Approximately 11.6% of the population — 28.9 million adult American in total — have been diagnosed with sinusitis according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Also typically referred to as a sinus infection, the CDC adds that sinusitis is responsible for 4.1 million visits to the doctor’s office annually, with 242,000 individuals seeking treatment for this condition in our nation’s emergency rooms.
Once the diagnosis has been confirmed, one of the most common courses of treatment prescribed by medical providers today is antibiotics.
Treating sinusitis with antibiotics
The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) calls antibiotics “standard treatments” for sinus infections. These medications work by attacking and destroying the underlying bacteria identified as the root cause of the infection.
While these drugs are often effective, the ACAAI does say that there are some drawbacks to using antibiotics to treat sinusitis. For starters, they don’t help relieve the symptoms. This means that additional medications must be taken to alleviate the pain and discomfort typically associated with sinus infection.
Additionally, because antibiotics are prescribed regularly, antibiotic resistance is a major concern. When this resistance exists, the bacteria are able to continue to grow, making them more difficult to treat. Though there are other treatment options to consider, such as nasal decongestant sprays and topical corticosteroids, some people are turning to colloidal silver instead.
What is colloidal silver and how does it work?
Colloidal silver products contain microscopic flakes or particles of silver, generally suspended in liquid that is meant to be taken orally. Sometimes these products are touted as beneficial to the immune system, yet some manufacturers say that they are also advantageous for dealing with infections such as sinusitis.
Healthline shares that it isn’t completely clear how colloidal silver is able to provide antibacterial effects. Though, some studies have found that this metal may damage the membranes of bacterial cells. This enables the silver to make its way into these cells easier, where they impede the bacteria’s natural processes, ultimately causing their death.
Colloidal silver is also thought to be beneficial because, when its particles make contact with bodily fluids, the ions provide medicinal properties. But what does the research say about its effectiveness?
Research behind colloidal silver and bacterial infections
In November 2017, the Journal of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery posted a randomized crossover control trial involving 20 patients with chronic sinus infections. For the first six weeks of the study, each participant used either a colloidal silver nasal spray or a saline spray twice a day. Then they switched sprays for the next six weeks.
After assessing each patient and comparing the results to data collected throughout the study, researchers concluded that colloidal silver nasal spray “did not demonstrate any meaningful subjective or objective improvements” for patients with chronic sinus issues.
Colloidal silver versus antibiotics
Another recent study sought to compare colloidal silver to antibiotics when treating chronic sinus infections. Its results were published in Frontiers in Microbiology in April 2018.
The 22 patients included in this piece of research had all previously underwent surgery on their sinuses and presented with a bacterial sinus infection. Half of the participants took oral antibiotics for 10-14 days along with doing a twice-daily saline rinse. The other half treated with colloidal silver rinses only, again twice a day.
Once the treatments concluded, researchers noted that, while both groups showed some improvement, neither course of treatment was superior to the other. Specifically, one patient in the colloidal silver group had a negative culture post-treatment compared to two patients in the antibiotic group.
Colloidal silver contraindications
Studies such as these further noted that, though colloidal silver provided marginal, if any, positive benefits, these products didn’t appear to offer any adverse effects. Not all health agencies agree.
For instance, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) indicates that “colloidal silver can cause serious side effects.” Among them are the skin turning bluish-gray, an effect which, though it isn’t necessarily deadly, in most instances cannot be reversed. The NCCIH also warns that colloidal silver can inhibit the absorption of other medications. Among them are antibiotics and some thyroid deficiency drugs.
Taking colloidal silver can also, in some instances, potentially lead to kidney damage and the development of neurological issues says the Mayo Clinic. This response is rare, but it is possible if these products are taken in higher doses.
For these reasons, it is recommended that patients consult with their primary care physicians before taking colloidal silver for a sinus infection. This helps ensure that this type of product will be safe for them to take given their individual health and medical conditions.