Sinusitis refers to infection, inflammation, or swelling of the sinuses and nasal cavity. They affect millions of adults in the US each year. The sinuses are a group of hollow spaces that surround the nose and eyes. Sinus infections include cloudy or colored discharge from the nose with nasal blockage or facial pain/pressure. Other symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, lack of or reduced sense of smell, dental pain, and ear fullness. The symptoms can be serious enough to disturb your quality of life or general well-being.
A sinus infection is typically caused by a viral upper respiratory infection, like a cold. A viral infection does not get better from
taking antibiotics. Acute bacterial sinus infections are caused by a bacterial infection. Some people with bacterial infections can
benefit from the use of antibiotics, although antibiotics are not necessary for everyone.
It is important to properly diagnose viral and bacterial sinus infections. If you have heart, kidney or liver disease, your healthcare
provider may consider different treatment.
For a viral sinus infection: Talking with your healthcare provider can help you make decisions about the treatment of symptoms. To relieve symptoms, pain relievers, nasal steroid sprays, and/or nasal saline rinse may be recommended. Nasal saline rinse can be purchased or homemade. Nasal saline rinse involves using a bulb, squeeze bottle or Neti pot. The mixture includes water, baking soda and a non-iodized salt. Antibiotics are not used for a viral sinus infection.
For an acute bacterial sinus infection: The healthcare provider should offer either watchful waiting without antibiotics or an antibiotic. If a decision is made to treat acute bacterial sinus infection with an antibiotic, amoxicillin will likely be prescribed. A combination of amoxicillin with clavulanate for 5 to 10 days may also be prescribed as a different treatment. If you feel worse or do not improve after seven days, you should see your healthcare provider. The healthcare provider will review the diagnosis and exclude other causes. The healthcare provider may also decide to start or change antibiotics. To relieve your symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend over-the-counter treatments. These treatments may include pain relievers, nasal steroid sprays, decongestants, and nasal saline rinse. Nasal saline rinse can be purchased or homemade. Nasal saline rinse involves using a bulb or squeeze bottle or Neti pot. The mixture includes water, baking soda, and non-iodized salt.
For a chronic sinus infection: We may recommend saline nasal rinse or topical intranasal corticosteroids. We may also prescribe both for symptom relief. Your treatment will be modified if you have asthma, cystic fibrosis, a weakened immune system, or ciliary dyskinesia.
*Some or all of the information found here can be attributed to The American Academy of Otolaryngology website