- Improve drainage of mucus and reduce swelling in the sinuses.
- Relieve pain and pressure.
- Clear up any infection.
- Prevent the formation of scar tissue, and avoid permanent damage to the tissues lining the nose and sinuses.
At first while being treated for acute or chronic sinusitis, you may begin to feel better from antibiotics and home treatment, but sometimes your symptoms become worse and additional treatment may be needed.
For acute sinusitis
Short-term (acute) sinusitis usually lasts less than 4 weeks. Up to two-thirds of people with acute sinusitis improve on their own without antibiotic treatment.1 Sinus infections are commonly caused by viral infections, which do not respond to antibiotics. Talking with your doctor will help you determine whether treatment with antibiotics is needed for your acute sinus infection.
Most people recover completely when treated with an antibiotic for acute sinusitis that is caused by a bacterial infection. The number of days you take antibiotics depends on the antibiotic and how bad the infection is. When you are prescribed an antibiotic, be sure to take it until it is gone, even if you feel better. Always take an antibiotic exactly as your doctor tells you, or the infection may not go away completely.
For chronic sinusitis
Sinusitis that lasts 12 weeks or longer is called chronic sinusitis. It is more difficult to treat and responds more slowly to antibiotics than acute sinusitis.
Antibiotic therapy is usually recommended for chronic sinusitis and may require a longer course of treatment. You may need to try more than one antibiotic. A corticosteroidnasal spray that reduces inflammation and swelling of the lining of the nasal passages may also be used during treatment.
In some people, a sinus infection may be caused by a fungus or a bacterium other than those normally associated with sinusitis. People who have an impaired immune system are at risk for these unusual infections. It also may include people who must use an oral or inhaled corticosteroid medicine (such as prednisone). Fungal sinusitis, which accounts for a significant number of chronic sinusitis cases, does not respond to antibiotic treatment and may need treatment with antifungal medicines, corticosteroids, or surgery.
Surgery may be required if you have taken antibiotics for an extended period of time but still have symptoms or when complications (such as infection of facial bones) are likely.
What to think about
Sinusitis may be difficult to diagnose, because it often causes the same symptoms as a cold or other viral illness, especially in its early stages. It can be particularly difficult to identify sinusitis in children. If your child or you have frequent sinus infections, learn what signs to watch for, and begin home treatment immediately.
Symptoms of chronic sinusitis are often vague and may not respond well to treatment. It may take time and patience to find a successful treatment.