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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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Is It a Cold or Sinus Infection?

Treating Your Sinus Infection

If you think you have a sinus infection, you may need to see your doctor.

“Mostly, these acute infections go away on their own or after a simple course of antibiotics,” says ear, nose, and throat specialist Greg Davis, who practices at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle.

Davis recommends sinus irrigation for sinus infections. It can help ease your symptoms while you wait for the antibiotics to do their job. Steroids, decongestants, and over-the-counter mucus thinners can also ease your discomfort, he says.

See an ear, nose, and throat specialist if your sinus infection doesn’t go away after one or two courses of antibiotics, Davis says.

Some people have sinus infections over and over. The only known risk factors, Davis says, are allergies and smoking (another reason to quit!) In rare cases, an acute infection can become chronic if it’s not treated successfully.

If you have chronic infections, and antibiotics and other treatments don’t help, you may need sinus surgery, Davis says.

Your doctor will enlarge the small or inflamed and swollen openings of your sinuses, allowing them to drain, and letting you breathe more easily.

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Reviewed on July 01, 2015

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