Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Allergies Health Center

Font Size

Sinusitis: Over-the-Counter Medicines - Topic Overview

Medicines available without a prescription may help relieve pain and promote sinus drainage.

  • Try pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen to relieve facial pain and headache. Do not give aspirin to anyone under age 20 because of the risk of Reye syndrome.
  • Try using a decongestant nasal spray or decongestant nose drops. Avoid using these products for more than 3 days in a row because it increases your risk of developing "rebound" nasal congestion. Frequent, prolonged use of a nasal decongestant can actually prolong your problems with congestion when you try to stop using the decongestant.
  • Try taking an oral decongestant that contains phenylephrine. These are safer for prolonged use than decongestant nasal sprays.
  • Try using a medicine that thins mucus and improves sinus drainage (mucolytic). Guaifenesin is a commonly used mucolytic. Mucolytics are often combined with other medicines such as cough suppressants.

Be careful with cough and cold medicines. They may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems, so check the label first. If you do use these medicines, always follow the directions about how much to use based on age and weight.

Recommended Related to Allergies

3 Questions About Fragrance Allergies

If you find yourself developing a killer headache when riding an elevator with someone who was a bit generous dabbing on the perfume, you have company. More than 2 million Americans have fragrance allergies or sensitivities -- and the number is on the rise. Although that person's perfume may have been all too obvious a culprit, there are many hidden sources of fragrances, says Clifford W. Bassett, MD, medical director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York. Bassett helped WebMD sniff out...

Read the 3 Questions About Fragrance Allergies article > >

Many doctors do not recommend using antihistamines unless your symptoms are related to having allergies. Antihistamines and decongestants may dry out the mucous membranes in your nose and sinuses and slow the movement of the cilia (the tiny hairs that line the nose, sinuses, and the air passages inside the lungs and that remove irritants). This can make mucus thicker, adding to drainage problems. But other experts believe antihistamines may help treat sinusitis by reducing the amount of mucus that builds up in the sinus cavities. Don't give antihistamines to your child unless you've checked with the doctor first.

1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 12, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Sinusitis: Over-the-Counter Medicines Topics

Today on WebMD

man blowing nose
Make these tweaks to your diet, home, and lifestyle.
Allergy capsule
Breathe easier with these products.
 
cat on couch
Live in harmony with your cat or dog.
Woman sneezing with tissue in meadow
Which ones affect you?
 

woman sneezing
Slideshow
Bottle of allergy capsules and daisies
Article
 
Urban blossoms
Slideshow
Woman blowing nose
Slideshow
 

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Woman with itchy watery eyes
Slideshow
Allergy prick test
VIDEO
 
Man sneezing into tissue
Tools
woman with duster crinkling nose
Quiz