Sinus Infection (Sinusitis) Medicines
Pain and Fever
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®), naproxen (Aleve®), or acetaminophen (Tylenol®), can be used for pain relief and/or fever. Most people with acute sinusitis either do not have a fever or have a low-grade fever. If your fever is above 102.5º F (39.2º C), contact your healthcare provider.
Irrigating the nose with a non-medicated saline solution or spray several times a day can also help with congestion and decrease the need for pain medicine (see Nasal Irrigation).
Bacterial Infection and Antibiotics
If a person is thought to have acute bacterial sinusitis, an antibiotic may or may not be prescribed. You may be asking, "If it's bacteria, why would antibiotics not be given?"
The reason is that in mild cases of acute bacterial sinusitis (mild pain and low-grade fever), research has shown that the body is often able to take care of the infection on its own. This is the case in up to 60 percent of people with a bacterial sinus infection. In these milder cases, healthcare providers will monitor your symptoms more closely and have follow-up visits as needed.
Many people with bacterial sinusitis do need antibiotic medicines. The choice of which one to use will depend on a number of factors. Antibiotics that might be prescribed for an acute sinus infection include:
- Amoxicillin (Amoxil®)
- Amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium (Augmentin®)
- Sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim (Bactrim®, Bactrim® DS, Septra®, Septra® DS, Sulfatrim®)
- Cefdinir (Omnicef®)
- Cefuroxime (Ceftin®)
- Clarithromycin (Biaxin®)
- Levofloxacin (Levaquin®)
- Azithromycin (Zithromax®).
You should take your antibiotics exactly as prescribed and take the entire prescription -- even if you start to feel better. This will decrease the chances of the antibiotic not completely eliminating the infection.
If your symptoms are not getting better on the antibiotic medicine, or if they come back, you should be seen again by your healthcare provider. A different antibiotic or further testing may be recommended.