Sinus Infection Treatment Options
There are many treatment options for a sinus infection, but the best treatment option varies by the severity of the case. Some acute sinus infections will clear up on their own without any treatment, and you may just think it was a cold. Others require more serious interventions by a healthcare provider.
The standard treatment healthcare providers prescribe for a presumed bacterial sinus infection is an antibiotic. However, if you have a sinus infection caused by a viral infection such as the common cold, your doctor will not prescribe antibiotics as these medications only treat bacterial infections. Instead, you can treat the sinus infection symptomatically until it resolves, with nasal decongestants and antihistamines.
There are plenty of ways to treat symptoms of a sinus infection at home with over-the-counter medications and home remedies. OTC antihistamines block the effects of histamine, helping symptoms like sneezing and runny nose. Simple treatments like drinking water, keeping your sinuses hydrated , and using warm compresses, can also help treat symptoms of a sinus infection.
Keeping your nasal passages clean can help you prevent future sinus infections. If you anticipate having sinus issues during allergy or cold season, flushing out your nasal passages with a saltwater solution can help you avoid the pains of a sinus infection.
Treatment For Sinusitis From A Gp
If you have sinusitis, a GP may be able to recommend other medicines to help with your symptoms, such as:
- steroid nasal sprays or drops â to reduce the swelling in your sinuses
- antihistamines â if an allergy is causing your symptoms
- antibiotics â if a bacterial infection is causing your symptoms and you’re very unwell or at risk of complications
You might need to take steroid nasal sprays or drops for a few months. They sometimes cause irritation, sore throats or nosebleeds.
A GP may refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist if, for example, you:
- still have sinusitis after 3 months of treatment
- keep getting sinusitis
- only have symptoms on 1 side of your face
They may also recommend surgery in some cases.
What Is A Sinus Infection Or Sinusitis
Inflammation of the air cavities within the passages of the nose is referred to as sinusitis. Sinusitis can be caused by infection , but also can be caused by allergy and chemical irritation of the sinuses. A sinus infection occurs when a virus, bacterium, or fungus grows within a sinus.
Sinusitis is one of the more common conditions that can afflict people throughout their lives. Sinusitis commonly occurs when environmental pollens irritate the nasal passages, such as with hay fever. Sinusitis can also result from irritants, such as chemicals or the use and/or abuse of over-the-counter nasal sprays, and illegal substances that may be snorted or inhaled through the nose. About 30 million adults have “sinusitis.” Colds differ from sinusitis and are only caused by viruses and last about seven to 10 days while sinusitis may have many different causes , and usually last longer with more pronounced and variable symptoms.
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Throat Irritation And Cough
As discharge from your sinuses drains down the back of your throat, it can cause irritation, especially over a long period of time. This can lead to a persistent and annoying cough, which can be worse when lying down to sleep or first thing in the morning after getting up from bed.
It can also make sleeping difficult. Sleeping upright or with your head elevated can help reduce the frequency and intensity of your coughing.
Ayr Saline Nasal Gel With Soothing Aloe
For buyers looking for something that doesnt have too much of a menthol scent, Ayr Saline Nasal Gel with Soothing Aloe is the best over the counter medicine for a sinus infection. This natural product incorporates a high concentration of aloe, which works well to soothe irritated nasal tissues to help relieve discomfort.
What many users love about Ayr Saline Nasal Gel with Soothing Aloe is that its long-lasting and easy to use. A single application around the nasal cavity and nostrils can provide lasting relief for up to 6 hours, making it the ideal solution for those who do not want to keep applying throughout the day. It is also ideal for use before bedtime, working well to keep the sinuses clear while you snooze.
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Other Options To Try Before Taking Sinus Infection Medications
Besides inhaling steam to relieve pressure in your sinuses:
- Keep yourself hydrated
- Avoid irritants to your sinuses
- Nasal irrigation
Nasal irrigation, another treatment for sinus infections, means flushing out mucus and debris from the nose by pushing fluids through the nostrils. Some patients find this method uncomfortable, but overall more effective than simple steam.
Essential Oils For Sinus Infection
There are many essential oils that have antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties, including:
- Eucalyptus oil
- Thyme oil
- Rosemary oil
Combining a few drops from different oils may be the best route to obtain maximum benefit from their different properties. Components of eucalyptus oil help to clear the air as well as break up mucus, while oregano oil is a potent antibacterial and antifungal oil. Eucalyptus is commonly found in cough drops and other medicines, but using it as an essential oil will yield a pure and more concentrated dose. There are a few ways to reap the benefits of these oils when you have a sinus infection.
- Steaming add a few drops to a pot of boiled water and hold your face over the steam.
- Sinus irrigation add a few drops to your neti pot solution for sinus irrigation.
- Homemade vapor rub or massage oil combining a few drops of essential oil with a base oil such as coconut oil or olive oil will yield a mixture that you can massage onto your throat to soothe and break up congestion.
- Oral consumption put one drop of food grade essential oil on the roof of your mouth. Careful not to consume much more than this, as essential oils are highly concentrated.
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How Is Sinus Infection Diagnosed
Diagnosis depends on symptoms and requires an examination of the throat, nose and sinuses. Your allergist will look for:
- Discolored nasal discharge
- Bad Breath
If your sinus infection lasts longer than eight weeks, or if standard antibiotic treatment is not working, a sinus CT scan may help your allergist diagnose the problem. Your allergist may examine your nose or sinus openings. The exam uses a long, thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera and a light at one end that is inserted through the nose. It is not painful. Your allergist may give you a light anesthetic nasal spray to make you more comfortable.
Mucus cultures: If your sinus infection is chronic or has not improved after several rounds of antibiotics, a mucus culture may help to determine what is causing the infection. Most mucus samples are taken from the nose. However, it is sometimes necessary to get mucus directly from the sinuses.
Knowing what kind of bacteria is causing the infection can lead to more effective antibiotic therapy. A fungus could also cause your sinus infection. Confirming the presence of fungus is important. Fungal sinus infection needs to be treated with antifungal agents, rather than antibiotics. In addition, some forms of fungal sinus infection allergic fungal sinus infection, for example do not respond to antifungal agents and often require the use of oral steroids.
Inhale Menthol And Camphor
Another inhaled odor that can help open up sinus passages is menthol, which is an ingredient in popular ointments that are used specifically to treat a stuffy nose. These ointments also contain eucalyptus oil and camphor, which combine with menthol to create a powerful scent that immediately relieves sinus pressure. This ointment can be rubbed on your chest and under your nose to deliver its soothing benefits. Unlike eucalyptus oil, this ointment should not be placed in the mouth.
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What Are The Most Common Antibiotics Used For Sinusitis
Amoxicillin remains the drug of choice for acute, uncomplicated bacterial sinusitis. Amoxicillin is most effective when given frequently enough to sustain adequate levels in the infected tissue. While often prescribed twice daily, it is even more effective if taken in 3 or 4 divided doses. Amoxicillin is typically prescribed for 7-10 days at a time. While it is critical to finish the entire 10 day course of antibiotics when treating strep throat, there is evidence that shorter courses of treatment may be sufficient for most cases of sinusitis. Amoxicillin is closely related to the parent compound penicillin and should not be prescribed in patients who are penicillin allergic.
Cephalosporins and Augmentin are considered broad-spectrum antibiotics because they have enhanced effectiveness against a wider range of bacteria, including those that are resistant to ordinary penicillin or amoxicillin. If the patient does not improve within the first week on amoxicillin, a change to Augmentin or to a cephalosporin such as Ceftin, Cefzil, Omnicef, or Suprax is reasonable. Although these drugs have a similar mechanism of action to penicillin, they generally can be taken in adequate doses once or twice daily. These medications should be used with extreme caution in patients with a history of penicillin allergy, as cross-reaction may occur.
When To Seek Medical Care
See a doctor if you have:
- Severe symptoms, such as severe headache or facial pain.
- Symptoms that get worse after initially improving.
- Symptoms lasting more than 10 days without improvement.
- Fever longer than 3-4 days.
You should also seek medical care if you have had multiple sinus infections in the past year.
This list is not all-inclusive. Please see a doctor for any symptom that is severe or concerning.
Other conditions can cause symptoms similar to a sinus infection, including:
- Seasonal allergies
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How You Can Treat Sinusitis Yourself
You can often treat mild sinusitis without seeing a GP by:
- getting plenty of rest
- taking painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
- avoiding allergic triggers and not smoking
- cleaning your nose with a salt water solution to ease congestion
You do not need to use all of the solution, but make a fresh solution each time you clean your nose.
Essential Oils For Sinus Infections
Many essential oils that contain antimicrobial properties, make a powerful weapon against bacterial, viral or fungal infections.
If your nose is stuffy, try to dilute 1 drop of Eucalyptus Oil in 1 tbsp of carrier oil and rub it on the bridge of your nose .
Alternatively, you can use Frankincense essential oil.
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Can A Sinus Infection Go Away Without Antibiotics
Sinus infections are an incredibly common urgent care condition. Most cases of sinusitis are viral, and will clear up without antibiotics. That said, its important to know when to contact a doctor. Sinusitis will typically follow the common cold, but may also be caused by allergens and environmental irritants, such as pollution. 70% of the time, acute sinusitis will clear up on its own within two weeks of infection. If it hasnt cleared in two weeks, the infection may be chronic, at which point its a good idea to see a doctor and determine the proper course of treatment.
Because sinusitis is normally viral, antibiotics should not be the first method for treatment. In fact, only 2-10% of sinus infections are bacterial. Inappropriate use of antibiotics will simply foster the development of drug-resistant superbugs, increase antibiotic resistance, and cost more money- all while potentially doing nothing to clear your sinus infection.
Apart from getting enough sleep, what are some home remedies that can facilitate the healing process? There are various treatments that can boost your immune system, soothe symptoms and speed up healing.
How Do You Get Rid Of A Sinus Infection Fast
You can treat a sinus infection at home or with OTC medications for symptom relief, and/or a prescription antibiotic medication, in the case of a bacterial infection. Stay hydrated, use a humidifier, and sleep at an incline to help resolve your sinus infection quickly. Consult your healthcare provider to see if you need an antibiotic.
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Inhale Diffused Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil has a strong odor that often helps patients find instant relief from sinusitis. Research has found that cineole, the main ingredient in eucalyptus oil, helps people recover from sinus infections more quickly than those who dont use eucalyptus oil. You can inhale eucalyptus oil through a diffuser, or rub some on your temples and chest to open your breathing passages. You can even use food-grade eucalyptus oil and place a drop on the roof of your mouth.
Treating Sinus Infections: Dont Rush To Antibiotics
Millions of people are prescribed antibiotics each year for sinus infections, a frequent complication of the common cold, hay fever, and other respiratory allergies. In fact, 15 to 21 percent of all antibiotic prescriptions for adults in outpatient care are for treating sinus infections. Unfortunately, most of those people dont need the drugs. Heres why:
The drugs usually dont help.
Sinus infections can be painful. People with the condition usually have a stuffy nose combined with yellow, green, or gray nasal discharge plus pain or pressure around the eyes, cheeks, forehead, or teeth that worsens when they bend over. But sinus infections almost always stem from a viral infection, not a bacterial oneand antibiotics dont work against viruses. Even when bacteria are the cause, the infections often clear up on their own in a week or so. And antibiotics dont help ease allergies, either.
They can pose risks.
About one in four people who take antibiotics have side effects, such as stomach problems, dizziness, or rashes. Those problems clear up soon after stopping the drugs, but in rare cases antibiotics can cause severe allergic reactions. Overuse of antibiotics also promotes the growth of bacteria that cant be controlled easily with drugs. That makes you more vulnerable to antibiotic-resistant infections and undermines the good that antibiotics can do for others.
So when are antibiotics necessary?
How should you treat sinus infections?
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Home Remedies And Lifestyle
At-home remedies can greatly reduce sinus infection symptoms, although they do not treat the infection.
Saltwater nasal irrigation is one of the treatments of choice for the symptoms of chronic sinusitis in adults, though studies show no benefit for children.Nasal irrigation is easy to do at home using a neti pot or other sinus rinse methods.
Using a steam vaporizer or a warm or cool mist humidifier may help keep your mucus thin. Inhalation of steam mixed with eucalyptus, chamomile, or peppermint may also help. While there’s no scientific research that these additives improve symptoms, you may find them soothing.
Hot vaporizers are a burn hazard and should not be used near your face or around children.
Other helpful tips:
- A hot shower may relieve pain, promote drainage, and open up the sinus cavities.
- Reduce facial pain and swelling by applying a warm compress to your face.
- Drink lots of fluids and get plenty of rest.
When To Contact Your Doctor:
- If you are coughing up green or yellow mucus
- If you have a fever above 101° F
- If you cannot eat or sleep
If your infection is not improving, your doctor may prescribe medication. Your doctor will determine the best medication to take that is safe for you and your baby. While sinus infections are not fun, there are ways you can take care of yourself either through medication or home remedies to alleviate your symptoms and promote your recovery.
Want to Know More?
- Keep track of your medication by downloading the Fetal Life App for Apple and Android endorsed by the American Pregnancy Association. It features medicine tracking, meal recommendations, kicks counter, blood glucose tracking, and much more.
Compiled using information from the following sources:
1. Harms, R. W. . . Mayo Clinic guide to a healthy pregnancy . New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
2. Jordan, R. G., Engstrom, J. L., Marfell, J. A., & Farley, C. L. . . Prenatal and postnatal care: A woman-centered approach. Ames, IA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
3. Larson, D. E. . . Mayo Clinic family health book: The ultimate illustrated home medical reference. New York, NY: William Morrow and Company, Inc.
4. Simkin, P., Whalley, J., & Keppler, A. . Pregnancy, childbirth, and the newborn: The complete guide. Gorham, K. . Deephaven, MN: Meadowbrook Press.
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What Are Complications Of Sinus Infection Or Sinusitis
While serious complications do not occur frequently, it is possible for a sinus infection to cause a direct extension of infection into the brain through a sinus wall, creating a life-threatening emergency .
In addition, other adjacent structures can become infected and develop problems, such as osteomyelitis of bones in the skull and infection around the eye . Rarely, these infections may cause death. The most susceptible individuals to complications are patients with suppressed immune systems, diabetes, and relatively rarely from multiple trauma injuries that may occur in natural disasters.