What Medications are used to Treat Sinus Infections?
First and foremost, if you are suffering from an active bacterial sinus infection you may be treated with antibiotics. Depending on whether you have acute sinusitis or chronic sinusitis will determine your course of therapy.
As acute sinusitis may require 10 -14 days of antibiotic therapy; chronic sinusitis may need to be treated for up to 30 days with medication.
Remember – Most cases of sinusitis are caused by viruses such as the common cold and will clear up within 10 or so days. In this case, antibiotics will not be helpful – as antibiotics kill bacteria – not viruses. Based upon your symptoms, medical history and physical examination your doctor will help determine if antibiotics are necessary.
Sinus headaches hurt. Sometimes the pain and pressure can make basic everyday activities impossible to do. So many times those suffering from sinusitis will take an over the counter medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Make sure to follow the labeled directions and see your doctor if your symptoms haven’t improved after a week or if they worsen.
Aerosolized antibiotics, steroids and antifugal treatments:
These may be administered through an aerosol or a nasal rinse. Frequently a compounding pharmacy is required to create this rinse.
What medications help reduce inflammation and increase drainage?
A short course of oral steroids (such as prednisone) may be used for recurring sinusitis and extensive mucosal thickening, congestion or nasal polyps.
Nasal corticosteroid sprays:
These are used to treat the swelling and inflammation of the nasal passages. They also help with nasal allergy symptoms such as itching, runny nose and sneezing. It may take at least a week for the effects of the spray to start relieving your symptoms. Nasal steroids are usually very well tolerated and there is minimal system absorption of the steroid into the blood stream.
Antihistamines are just that: Anti-histamines. They block the release of histamines in your body. Antihistamines may be used if allergy is playing a significant role in causing sinusitis. Histamines cause tissues (such as your nasal passageways) to swell and are triggered by an allergic trigger (pollen, dust mites etc). While side-effects vary, the most common reported ones are dry mouth and drowsiness.
There are different forms of antihistamines – from oral to nasal sprays to eye drops all with either over-the-counter or prescription forms. Our specialists can help determine if your sinus problems are caused by allergies and which if any allergy medications are right for you.
While antihistamines help relieve allergy symptoms, they generally don’t help with treat nasal congestion. That’s why doctors may also prescribe a decongestant to reduce the pressure, pain and stuffiness. There are over the counter sprays (like Afrin), oral tablets (like Sudafed) and prescription forms. Even though decongestants can be obtained over the counter, they should be used with caution. They may cause the heart to race, change the heart rhythm or cause excessive dryness.
Generally come in 2 forms: Oral tablets (which provide longer lasting relief – but take some time to start working) and nasal spray (which provide rapid relief – but are generally shorter lasting). Both work by shrinking swollen tissues in the nose and sinuses.
It’s very important to note that decongestants should be used short-term – for a period of 2-3 days. After that time you will experience a rebound effect and will actually increase your congestion causing you to need to use your spray more often. Our specialists can help you with the right treatment and plan and breaking this cycle of use.