Sinusitis (Sinus Infection) Treatment
Over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription decongestant nose drops and sprays are effective in treating nasal congestion. They should be used for no more than two or three days. If you use these medications for longer periods, they can lead to even more congestion and swelling of your nasal passages.
Examples of this type of medicine include oxymetazoline (Afrin®, Sudafed OM™, and a number of other brands) and phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine®).
Decongestants taken by mouth can also help with congestion. This includes over-the-counter medicines such as phenylephrine hydrochloride (Sudafed PE®) and pseudoephedrine hydrochloride (Sudafed®).
Steroid nasal sprays have also been shown to be quite effective in decreasing nasal congestion within two or three days. A number of these are available with a prescription. You might need to use a nasal decongestant for a few days before starting a nasal steroid. This will help to decrease nasal swelling and allow the steroid to reach more areas of the nasal passages.
Guaifenesin (Mucinex®, Robitussin®, and others) may help thin secretions and may promote ease of mucus drainage and clearance.
Other treatments for congestion, including oral antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) or zinc supplements, have not been shown to help with sinus infection (sinusitis) symptoms. They can also cause unwanted side effects.
If a person is thought to have acute bacterial sinusitis, an antibiotic may be prescribed. Amoxicillin is often the first choice.
Even if a bacterial infection is suspected, antibiotics may not be prescribed for mild cases. This is because many cases of acute bacterial sinusitis will get better without the use of such medicines. In these milder cases, healthcare providers will monitor your symptoms more closely and have follow-up visits as needed.
(Click Sinus Infection (Sinusitis) Medicines for more information.)