What is a sinus infection?
A sinus infection is a condition where the nasal passages become swollen and infected.
A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis, is a condition where the nasal passages become swollen and infected. The sinuses are hollow air spaces in the facial bones, near the nose. They produce mucus, which helps line the nose and prevent dust and other particles from entering the lungs. Rarely sinusitis can develop into serious medical complications, including meningitis and brain abscess. A patient may need medical intervention if sinusitis lasts longer than nine days and it is unresponsive to over-the-counter medications.
Common symptoms of sinus infection include:
- Sinus pressure
- Facial pain or pressure
- Nasal blockage or congestion (“stuffed up” nose)
- Loss of sense of smell
- Bad breath
- Cough or congestion
- Runny nose
- Ear pain
- Teeth pain
- Thick yellow or green mucus draining from the nose or down the back of your throat
What are the common home remedies to treat sinus infection?
The common home remedies to treat sinus infection include:
- At-home vaporizer or humidifier: It may help relieve sinus symptoms. Sometimes a hot shower may also relieve sinus symptoms.
- Use of lavender essential oil, peppermint essential oil, and eucalyptus oil while breathing steam may relieve nasal pressure.
- A warm compress over the nose and forehead helps relieve sinus pressure.
- Use of a syringe or a neti pot to stream a solution of noniodized salt, baking soda, and lukewarm distilled (or previously boiled) water through the nostrils to help keep nasal passages clean. Also, a patient may choose a product from a pharmacy that is already prepared and ready to mix from packets.
- Drink warm water to stay hydrated.
- Drinking warm ginger tea with turmeric may help relieve nasal congestion.
- Drinking warm water with apple cider vinegar may help in fighting a sinus infection. Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial and antifungal properties and is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, calcium, and magnesium which aids in treating sinus infection. It works by loosening up the mucous and clearing nasal passages.
- Eat a balanced diet that also includes spices, and a diet rich in vitamin C and minerals help build immunity to fight infection.
- Sleep with the head elevated at night or keep a humidifier running at home to avoid an arid environment may help relieve sinus pressure.
What are the common medications to treat sinus infection?
The primary types of medications used for treating sinus infections include:
Decongestants: They help in reducing swelling, pressure, and congestion of mucus in the nasal passages. Usually used as nasal sprays, such as Afrin Nasal Spray (contains oxymetazoline) and oral pills like Sudafed. These medications should be taken as prescribed by the doctor and for a maximum of three days.
Tylenol and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: Over-the-counter pain relievers may help reduce symptoms associated with a sinus infection. It helps relieve pain, swelling, and fever. However, these should not be taken for longer periods.
Antibiotics: Antibiotics are usually not necessary for sinus infections, but physicians may prescribe one if they suspect a bacterial infection is the cause of sinusitis. Generic antibiotics like amoxicillin or cefdinir can be used to stop the growth of or kill bacteria to resolve a sinus infection. Other popular antibiotics prescribed for sinus infections include Zithromax (azithromycin) or Augmentin. Common side effects of antibiotics include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Steroids: Corticosteroids can improve sinus drainage by reducing inflammation of the sinuses. Doctors typically only prescribe steroids for severe sinus infections. The most common steroids used for sinus infection treatment are prednisone and Medrol (methylprednisolone). Prolonged use of steroids can cause disruptions in the body’s hormone levels, so they should only be taken as advised.
Antihistamines: If sinus infections are caused by allergies, antihistamines can help clear up sinusitis by reducing or stopping an allergic reaction. Benadryl is a commonly used antihistamine that may relieve sinus infection. The main side effects of antihistamines include dizziness, dry mouth, and drowsiness.