Cold Home > Sinusitis (Sinus Infection) Treatment

Although most sinus infections clear up on their own within 7 to 10 days, some infections are more stubborn and will require treatment. Your options will depend on the type of sinus infection you have, what caused it, whether there are complications, and other factors. Medications, nasal irrigation, home remedies, and even surgery are some of the sinusitis treatment options available.

How Is Sinusitis Treated?

There are several different treatment options for sinusitis. The one that is right for you will depend on:
  • The type (acute versus chronic)
  • The cause (viral, bacterial, or other)
  • How serious the symptoms are and whether there are complications
  • How healthy you are
  • Other medical conditions that you have.
Your healthcare provider will consider all of these options before deciding on the best treatment plan for you.

Treating an Acute Sinus Infection

Treatment for acute sinusitis focuses on reducing inflammation and relieving your symptoms. This is because most people will get better on their own within seven to ten days.
Some different treatment recommendations may include:
  • Nasal decongestants and steroid nasal sprays to reduce congestion.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®), naproxen (Aleve®), or acetaminophen (Tylenol®) for pain relief and/or fever.
  • Irrigating the nose with a non-medicated saline solution or spray several times a day. This helps clear the nasal passages and decreases the need for pain medicine.
Antibiotics may not be recommended at first. This is because most acute sinus infections are caused by a virus, and antibiotics have no effect on viruses. These medications will be prescribed if the healthcare provider suspects bacterial sinusitis. They can control a bacterial infection and decrease the risk of complications of sinusitis.
For acute viral sinusitis, treatment does not shorten the course of the illness; it just helps relieve the symptoms until the body can take care of the infection on its own. For most people, the condition clears up on its own within 10 days.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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