Sinusitis is treated with
home treatment, such as applying moist heat to
your face. The goals of treatment for
sinusitis are to:
- Improve drainage of mucus and reduce swelling
in the sinuses.
- Relieve pain and pressure.
- Clear up any
- Prevent the formation of scar tissue, and avoid
permanent damage to the tissues lining the nose and sinuses.
Medicines may be used to treat sinusitis, especially when
it is caused by a
bacterial infection. There are varying lengths of
treatment with medicines—treatment may be as short as three days or last as
long as several weeks or more. Medicines most often used to treat sinusitis
include a combination of:
- Antibiotics, such as amoxicillin,
which kill bacteria.
- Decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine, which reduce the swelling of the mucous membranes in the
- Analgesics, such as acetaminophen or
ibuprofen, to relieve pain.
- Mucolytics, such as
guaifenesin, which thin the mucus.
- Corticosteroids, such as beclomethasone
or prednisone, which reduce inflammation in the nasal passages. Some corticosteroids are used as an inhaled nasal spray or in a nasal wash solution.
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
- Sinusitis: Should I Take Antibiotics?
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
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
corticosteroid nasal 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 medication (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 medications,
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
- Sinusitis: Should I Have Surgery?