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Acute Sinusitis Medication

  • Author: Itzhak Brook, MD, MSc; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
 
Updated: May 06, 2016
 

Medication Summary

Viral rhinosinusitis does not require antimicrobial treatment. Standard nonantimicrobial treatment options include topical steroids, topical and/or oral decongestants, mucolytics, and intranasal saline spray.

Antimicrobial therapy is the mainstay of medical treatment in sinusitis. The choice of antibiotics depends on whether the sinusitis is acute, chronic, or recurrent.

Antibiotic efficacy rates are as follows[54] :

  • Levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, and amoxicillin/clavulanate - Greater than 90%
  • High-dose amoxicillin, cefpodoxime proxetil, cefixime, cefuroxime axetil, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole - 80-90%
  • Clindamycin, doxycycline, cefprozil, azithromycin, clarithromycin, and erythromycin - 70-80%
  • Cefaclor - 50-60%

On the basis of the 2000 Sinus and Allergy Health Partnership treatment guidelines for acute bacterial rhinosinusitis, patients are divided into 3 groups, as follows:

  • Adults with mild disease who have not received antibiotics: Amoxicillin/clavulanate, amoxicillin (1.5-3.5 g/day), cefpodoxime proxetil, or cefuroxime is recommended as initial therapy.
  • Adults with mild disease who have had antibiotics in the previous 4-6 weeks and adults with moderate disease: Amoxicillin/clavulanate, amoxicillin (3-3.5 g), cefpodoxime proxetil, or cefixime is recommended.
  • Adults with moderate disease who have received antibiotics in the previous 4-6 weeks: Amoxicillin/clavulanate, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, or doxycycline is recommended.

Patients who remain symptomatic despite appropriate antibiotic therapy may be evaluated with sinus endoscopy, CT scanning, or sinus aspiration/culture.

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Penicillins

Class Summary

The penicillins are bactericidal antibiotics that work against sensitive organisms at adequate concentrations and inhibit the biosynthesis of cell wall mucopeptide. The penicillins are also available in combination with agents that inactivate beta-lactamase enzymes, extending their antibiotic spectrum.

Piperacillin and Tazobactam sodium (Zosyn)

 

The piperacillin-tazobactam combination includes an antipseudomonal penicillin plus beta-lactamase inhibitor. It inhibits biosynthesis of cell wall mucopeptide and is effective during the stage of active multiplication.

Ticarcillin and clavulanate potassium

 

The ticarcillin-clavulanate combination inhibits the biosynthesis of cell wall mucopeptide and is effective during the stage of active growth. It has antipseudomonal penicillin plus a beta-lactamase inhibitor that provides coverage against most gram-positive, gram-negative, and anaerobic organisms.

Penicillin VK

 

Penicillin V potassium is a first-line antibiotic choice. It inhibits biosynthesis of cell wall mucopeptide. It is bactericidal against sensitive organisms when adequate concentrations are reached and most effective during the stage of active multiplication. Inadequate concentrations may produce only bacteriostatic effects.

Amoxicillin and clavulanate (Augmentin, Amoclan)

 

Amoxicillin-clavulanate is a second-line agent; this drug combination treats bacteria resistant to beta-lactam antibiotics.

Amoxicillin (Moxatag)

 

Amoxicillin is a first-line antibiotic choice. It interferes with synthesis of cell wall mucopeptides during active multiplication, resulting in bactericidal activity against susceptible bacteria.

Piperacillin

 

Piperacillin inhibits the biosynthesis of cell wall mucopeptides and the stage of active multiplication; it has antipseudomonal activity.

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Cephalosporins

Class Summary

Cephalosporins are structurally and pharmacologically related to penicillins. They inhibit bacterial cell wall synthesis, resulting in bactericidal activity. Cephalosporins are divided into first, second, third and fourth generation. First-generation cephalosporins have greater activity against gram-positive bacteria, and succeeding generations have increased activity against gram-negative bacteria and decreased activity against gram-positive bacteria.

Cefprozil

 

Cefprozil is a second-line agent. It binds to one or more of the penicillin-binding proteins, which, in turn, inhibits cell wall synthesis and results in bactericidal activity.

Cefuroxime (Ceftin, Zinacef)

 

Cefuroxime is a second-line agent. It is a second-generation cephalosporin that maintains the gram-positive activity of first-generation cephalosporins, adding activity against Proteus mirabilis, H influenzae, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and M catarrhalis.

Cefpodoxime

 

Cefpodoxime is a second-line agent. It binds to one or more penicillin-binding proteins, which, in turn, inhibits cell wall synthesis and results in bactericidal activity.

Cefixime (Suprax)

 

Cefixime is a second-line agent. By binding to one or more penicillin-binding proteins, it arrests bacterial cell wall synthesis and inhibits bacterial growth.

Ceftriaxone (Rocephin)

 

Ceftriaxone is a third-generation cephalosporin with broad-spectrum, gram-negative activity; it has lower efficacy against gram-positive organisms and higher efficacy against resistant organisms. It arrests bacterial growth by binding to one or more penicillin binding proteins. It has good penetration.

Cefdinir

 

Classified as a third-generation cephalosporin, cefdinir inhibits mucopeptide synthesis in the bacterial cell wall. It is typically bactericidal, depending on organism susceptibility, dose, and serum or tissue concentrations.

Cefaclor

 

Cefaclor is used for treatment of infections caused by susceptible organisms including H influenzae and for treatment of otitis media, sinusitis, and infections involving the respiratory tract. It may not be appropriate in acute sinusitis, owing to less activity and the potential for severe allergic reactions.

Cefotaxime (Claforan)

 

Cefotaxime is a third-generation cephalosporin with broad gram-negative spectrum, lower efficacy against gram-positive organisms, and higher efficacy against resistant organisms. It arrests bacterial cell wall synthesis by binding to one or more of the penicillin-binding proteins, which, in turn, inhibits bacterial growth.

Ceftazidime (Fortaz, Tazicef)

 

Ceftazidime is a third-generation cephalosporin with broad-spectrum, gram-negative activity, including pseudomonas; lower efficacy against gram-positive organisms; and higher efficacy against resistant organisms. It arrests bacterial growth by binding to one or more penicillin-binding proteins, which, in turn, inhibits the final transpeptidation step of peptidoglycan synthesis in bacterial cell wall synthesis, thus inhibiting cell wall biosynthesis.

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Macrolides

Class Summary

Macrolide antibiotics have bacteriostatic activity and exert their antibacterial action by binding to the 50S ribosomal subunit of susceptible organisms, resulting in inhibition of protein synthesis. Macrolide antibiotics are often used in patients allergic to penicillins.

Erythromycin ethylsuccinate (E.E.S., Ery-Tab, PCE)

 

Erythromycin is a first-line treatment in patients allergic to penicillin. It inhibits bacterial growth, possibly by blocking dissociation of peptidyl t-RNA from ribosomes, causing RNA-dependent protein synthesis to arrest.

Clarithromycin (Biaxin)

 

Clarithromycin is a second-line agent. It inhibits bacterial growth, possibly by blocking dissociation of peptidyl t-RNA from ribosomes, causing RNA-dependent protein synthesis to arrest.

Azithromycin (Zithromax, Zmax)

 

Azithromycin, an advanced-generation macrolide, works similarly to clarithromycin but with shorter dosage time.

Erythromycin base and sulfisoxazole (Pediazole)

 

This agent is used for treatment of susceptible bacterial infections of upper and lower respiratory tract: in children, it is used for otitis media caused by susceptible strains of H influenzae; it is used for many other infections in patients allergic to penicillin.

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Fluoroquinolones

Class Summary

Fluoroquinolones have broad-spectrum activity against gram-positive and gram-negative aerobic organisms. They inhibit DNA synthesis and growth by inhibiting DNA gyrase and topoisomerase, which is required for replication, transcription, and translation of genetic material.

Levofloxacin (Levaquin)

 

Levofloxacin is used to treat acute maxillary sinusitis caused by S pneumoniae, H influenzae, or M catarrhalis. Fluoroquinolones should be used empirically in patients likely to develop exacerbation due to resistant organisms to other antibiotics. This is the L stereoisomer of the D/L parent compound ofloxacin, the D form being inactive. It provides good monotherapy with extended coverage against Pseudomonas species, as well as excellent activity against pneumococcus. The agent acts by inhibition of DNA gyrase activity. The oral form has bioavailability that is reportedly 99%.

Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)

 

Ciprofloxacin is a broad spectrum antibiotic with activity against gram-positive and gram-negative aerobic organisms. It inhibits bacterial DNA synthesis and, consequently, growth, by inhibiting DNA gyrase and topoisomerase, which are required for replication, transcription, and translation of genetic material.

Moxifloxacin (Avelox)

 

Moxifloxacin inhibits the A subunits of DNA gyrase, resulting in inhibition of bacterial DNA replication and transcription.

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Anti-Infectives

Class Summary

Anti-infectives such as vancomycin, clindamycin, metronidazole, and sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim are effective against some types of bacteria that have become resistant to other antibiotics.

Trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Bactrim DS, Sulfatrim Pediatric)

 

Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole is a first-line agent with more convenient dosing. It inhibits bacterial growth by inhibiting synthesis of dihydrofolic acid.

Vancomycin

 

Vancomycin is a potent antibiotic directed against gram-positive organisms and active against Enterococcus species (useful in septicemia and skin structure infections; Enterococcus is very rare in sinusitis). Vancomycin is indicated for patients who cannot receive or have failed to respond to penicillins and cephalosporins or who have infections with resistant staphylococci.

Metronidazole (Flagyl, Metro)

 

Metronidazole is an imidazole ring-based antibiotic that is active against various anaerobic bacteria and protozoa. It is used in combination with other antimicrobial agents (except C difficile enterocolitis).

Clindamycin (Cleocin)

 

Clindamycin is a semisynthetic antibiotic produced by 7(S)-chloro-substitution of 7(R)-hydroxyl group of parent compound lincomycin. It inhibits bacterial growth, possibly by blocking dissociation of peptidyl tRNA from ribosomes, causing RNA-dependent protein synthesis to arrest. Clindamycin widely distributes in the body without penetration of the CNS. It is protein bound and is excreted by the liver and kidneys.

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Carbapenems

Class Summary

Carbapenems are structurally related to penicillins and have broad-spectrum bactericidal activity. The carbapenems exert their effect by inhibiting cell wall synthesis, which leads to cell death. They are active against gram-negative, gram-positive, and anaerobic organisms.

Imipenem and cilastatin (Primaxin)

 

The imipenem-cilastin combination is used for the treatment of multiple-organism infections in which other agents do not have wide-spectrum coverage or are contraindicated because of the potential for toxicity.

Meropenem (Merrem)

 

A bactericidal broad-spectrum carbapenem antibiotic that inhibits cell-wall synthesis, meropenem is effective against most gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Compared with imipenem, meropenem has slightly increased activity against gram-negative organisms and slightly decreased activity against staphylococci and streptococci.

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Aminoglycosides

Class Summary

Aminoglycosides are bactericidal antibiotics used to primarily treat gram-negative infections. They interfere with bacterial protein synthesis by binding to 30S and 50S ribosomal subunits.

Gentamicin

 

Gentamicin is an aminoglycoside antibiotic effective against Pseudomonas aeruginosa; E coli; and Proteus, Klebsiella, and Staphylococcus species. Gentamicin is also variably effective against some strains of certain gram-positive organisms, including S aureus, enterococci, and L monocytogenes. Dosing regimens are numerous; adjust the dose based on creatinine clearance and changes in volume of distribution.

Tobramycin

 

Tobramycin is used in skin, bone, and skin structure infections caused by S aureus, P aeruginosa, Proteus species, E coli, Klebsiella species, and Enterobacter species. It is indicated in the treatment of staphylococcal infections when penicillin or potentially less-toxic drugs are contraindicated and when bacterial susceptibility and clinical judgment justify its use. Like other aminoglycosides, tobramycin is associated with nephrotoxicity and ototoxicity.

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Tetracyclines

Class Summary

Tetracyclines inhibit protein synthesis and, thus, bacterial growth by binding to 30S and possibly 50S ribosomal subunits of susceptible bacteria. They may block dissociation of peptidyl t-RNA from ribosomes, causing RNA-dependent protein synthesis to arrest.

Doxycycline (Doryx, Adoxa, Monodox, Vibramycin)

 

Doxycycline has broad-spectrum activity and is a synthetically derived bacteriostatic antibiotic in the tetracycline class. Doxycycline inhibits protein synthesis, and thus bacterial growth, by binding to 30S and possibly 50S ribosomal subunits of susceptible bacteria.

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Decongestants

Class Summary

These agents cause vasoconstriction, which reduces nasal congestion. Topical agents are locally active vasoconstrictor agents such as phenylephrine and oxymetazoline, which provide immediate symptomatic relief by shrinking the inflamed and swollen nasal mucosa. Oral decongestants such as pseudoephedrine can be used for 10-14 days to allow for restoration of normal mucociliary function and drainage.

Phenylephrine nasal (Neo-Synephrine Cold & Sinus, Rhinall, Nasal Four)

 

Phenylephrine produces vasoconstriction. It is possibly helpful and is not harmful.

Oxymetazoline (Afrin 12 Hour, Afrin Sinus, QlearQuil)

 

Oxymetazoline is applied directly to mucous membranes. It stimulates alpha-adrenergic receptors and causes vasoconstriction. Decongestion occurs without drastic changes in blood pressure, vascular redistribution, or cardiac stimulation.

Tetrahydrozoline, ophthalmic (Tyzine)

 

The alpha-adrenergic effects of tetrahydrozoline on nasal mucosa produce vasoconstriction.

Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Nexafed, SudoGest, Genaphed)

 

Phenylephrine produces vasoconstriction. It is possibly helpful and is not harmful.

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Nasal Sprays

Class Summary

Nasal saline spray and steam inhalation help by moistening dry secretions, reducing mucosal edema, and reducing mucus viscosity. The symptomatic relief gained in some patients can be substantial; moreover, these are benign modalities of therapy.

Saline nasal spray (Ayr, Ocean Nasal Spray, Nasal Moist)

 

Saline nasal sprays loosen mucus secretions to help remove mucus from the nose and sinuses.

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Expectorants

Class Summary

Mucolytic agents such as guaifenesin have the theoretical benefit of thinning mucous secretions and improving drainage.

Guaifenesin (Altarussin, Bidex, Geri-Tussin, Liquibid, Mucinex)

 

Guaifenesin increases respiratory tract fluid secretions and helps to loosen phlegm and bronchial secretions. It is indicated for patients with bronchiectasis complicated by tenacious mucous and/or mucous plugs.

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Corticosteroids

Class Summary

Intranasal steroids have not been conclusively shown to be of benefit in cases of acute sinusitis. Study results conflict, with some reporting benefit as monotherapy or in combination with antibiotics and others reporting no benefit (combination or monotherapy).

Beclomethasone, intranasal (Beconase AQ, QNASL)

 

Beclomethasone has potent vasoconstrictive and anti-inflammatory activity. It has a weak hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis inhibitory potency when applied topically.

Triamcinolone inhaled (Nasacort, Nasacort AQ)

 

Triamcinolone decreases inflammation by suppressing migration of polymorphonuclear leukocytes and reversing capillary permeability.

Flunisolide intranasal

 

Flunisolide inhibits bronchoconstriction mechanisms, producing direct smooth muscle relaxation. It may decrease the number and activity of inflammatory cells, in turn decreasing airway hyperresponsiveness. Flunisolide decreases inflammation by suppressing migration of polymorphonuclear leukocytes and reversing capillary permeability. It does not depress the hypothalamus.

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Anticholinergics

Class Summary

Anticholinergics block interactions between acetylcholine and muscarinic receptors on the smooth muscle preventing increases in cyclic GMP inhibiting bronchoconstriction and mucus secretion.

Ipratropium (Atrovent)

 

Topical ipratropium bromide can be used to decrease rhinorrhea. Anticholinergics such as ipratropium have anti-secretory properties, and when applied locally, inhibit secretions from serous, and seromucous glands lining the nasal mucosa.

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Itzhak Brook, MD, MSc Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Georgetown University School of Medicine

Itzhak Brook, MD, MSc is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine, American Medical Association, American Society for Microbiology, Association of Military Surgeons of the US, Infectious Diseases Society of America, International Immunocompromised Host Society, International Society for Infectious Diseases, Medical Society of the District of Columbia, New York Academy of Sciences, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, Society for Pediatric Research, Southern Medical Association, Society for Ear, Nose and Throat Advances in Children, American Federation for Clinical Research, Surgical Infection Society, Armed Forces Infectious Diseases Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Linas Riauba, MD Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, Department of Medicine, Section of Infectious Disease, University Hospital, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School

Linas Riauba, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Medical Association, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Brian E Benson, MD Chief, Division of Laryngeal Surgery and Voice Disorders; Director, The Voice Center at Hackensack University Medical Center; Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery, UMDNJ, New Jersey Medical School

Brian E Benson, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy, American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Sigma Xi

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Michael Stuart Bronze, MD David Ross Boyd Professor and Chairman, Department of Medicine, Stewart G Wolf Endowed Chair in Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Science Center; Master of the American College of Physicians; Fellow, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Michael Stuart Bronze, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Medical Association, Oklahoma State Medical Association, Southern Society for Clinical Investigation, Association of Professors of Medicine, American College of Physicians, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgements

Michael Cunningham, DO Sr Clinical Instructor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

Michael Cunningham, DO is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Emergency Physicians, American Osteopathic Association, Medical Society of the State of New York, and National Association of EMS Physicians

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Tracey Quail Davidoff, MD Senior Clinical Instructor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Rochester General Hospital

Tracey Quail Davidoff, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Forensic Examiners, American College of Physicians, and American Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Thomas E Herchline, MD Professor of Medicine, Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine; Medical Director, Public Health, Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio

Thomas E Herchline, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, Infectious Diseases Society of America, and Infectious Diseases Society of Ohio

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Erhun Serbetci, MD Director, Department of Otolaryngology, Section of Nose and Sinus Surgery, Associate Professor, International Hospital of Istanbul, Turkey

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Medscape Salary Employment

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Sagittal section of the lateral nasal wall demonstrating openings of paranasal sinuses. Conchae have been cut to depict details of meatal structures.
Air-fluid level (arrow) in the maxillary sinus suggests sinusitis.
CT cuts for a limited CT study.
Table 1. Dosage, Route, and Spectrum of Activity of Commonly Used First-Line Antibiotics*
Antibiotic Dosage Streptococcus pneumoniae Haemophilus influenzae Moraxella catarrhalis Anaerobic bacteria
Sensitive Intermediate Resistant
Amoxicillin 500 mg PO tid +++ ++ + ++ + +++



(except beta-lactamase producers)



Clarithromycin 250-500 mg PO bid ++ ++ + ++ +++ +
Azithromycin 500 mg PO first day, then



250 mg/d PO for 4 days



++ ++ + ++ +++ +
*+, low activity against microorganism; ++, moderate activity against microorganism; +++, good activity against microorganism
Table 2. Dosage, Route, and Spectrum of Activity of Commonly Used Second-Line Antibiotics*
Antibiotic Dosage Streptococcus pneumoniae Haemophilus influenzae Moraxella catarrhalis Anaerobic bacteria
Sensitive Intermediate Resistant
Amoxicillin/



clavulanate



500 mg PO tid +++ ++ + +++ +++ +++
Cefuroxime 250-500 mg PO bid +++ ++ + +++ ++ ++
Cefpodoxime



+



cefixime



200 mg PO bid



400 mg/d PO



-



++



+++



-



++



-



+



+++



+++



+++



++



-



Ciprofloxacin 500-750 mg PO bid ++ + + ++ +++ +
Levofloxacin 500 mg/d PO +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ ++
Trovafloxacin 200 mg/d PO +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++
Clindamycin 300 mg PO tid +++ +++ ++ - - +++
Metronidazole 500 mg PO tid - - - - - +++
*+, low activity against microorganism; ++, moderate activity against microorganism; +++, good activity against microorganism; -, no activity against microorganism
Table 3. Dosage, Route, and Spectrum of Activity of Commonly Used Intravenous Antibiotics (Second-Line)*
Antibiotic Dosage Streptococcus pneumoniae Haemophilus influenzae Moraxella catarrhalis Gram-negative Anaerobic bacteria
Piperacillin 3-4 g IV q4-6h +++ + - +++ +++
Piperacillin/tazobactam 3.375 g IV q6h +++ +++ +++ +++ ++
Ticarcillin 3 g IV q4h +++ - - +++ ++
Ticarcillin/clavulanate 3.1 g IV q4h +++ +++ - +++ ++
Imipenem 500 mg IV q6h +++ +++ +++ +++ +++
Meropenem 1 g IV q8h +++ +++ +++ +++ +++
Cefuroxime 1 g IV q8h +++ +++ +++ ++ ++
Ceftriaxone 2 g IV bid +++ +++ +++ +++ ++
Cefotaxime 2 g IV q4-6h +++ +++ +++ +++ ++
Ceftazidime 2 g IV q8h +++ +++ +++ +++ ++
Gentamicin 1.7 mg/kg IV q8h - +++ +++ ++ -
Tobramycin 1.7 mg/kg IV q8h - +++ +++ ++ -
Vancomycin 1 g IV q6-12h +++ - - - ++
*+, low activity against microorganism; ++, moderate activity against microorganism; +++, good activity against microorganism; -, no activity against microorganism †Does not take into account penicillin-resistant types.
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