Sinusitis is an infection or inflammation of the sinuses, the air-filled chambers in the skull that are located around the nose. Bacteria are the most common cause of sinusitis, but there can be other causes as well. Symptoms of sinusitis include thick nasal discharge, facial pain or pressure, fever, and reduced sense of smell. Depending on how long these symptoms last, sinusitis is classified as acute, subacute, chronic, or recurrent.
Non-Drug Treatment of Sinusitis
Home remedies such as saline (salt) washes or sprays are helpful for removing mucus and relieving congestion. Steam inhalation is also beneficial. Patients with sinusitis should drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Water, which helps lubricate the mucus membranes, is the best fluid to drink.
Drug Treatment of Sinusitis
Medication depends on the type of sinusitis and its cause. Non-prescription pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help mild-to-moderate pain symptoms. Decongestants may help relieve congestion, but they do not cure sinusitis. Antihistamine can dry the mucus and sometimes worsen the condition. Cough or cold medication is not recommended for children younger than age 4 years.
Because many cases of acute sinusitis resolve on their own within 2 weeks, doctors generally wait at least 7 – 14 days before prescribing an antibiotic.
For chronic sinusitis, antibiotics and nasal corticosteroids are the main treatments, but this condition is difficult to treat and does not always respond to these drugs. Other drugs may also be prescribed. If drugs are ineffective, some patients with chronic sinusitis may need surgery.