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Treatment of a Sinus Infection

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When a person suffers from a common cold, she has nasal congestion that lasts between seven to 10 days that clears up when she uses over-the-counter medications, like a decongestant. But if she has a sinus infection, that congestion lasts longer than 10 days and does not respond to an over-the-counter decongestant.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases noted that in 2009, about 31 million adults reported having a sinus infection, also called sinusitis, which has several symptoms in addition to the nasal congestion. The duration can be up to four weeks (acute sinus infection) to more than 12 weeks (chronic sinus infection).

People suffering from a sinus infection can do some home remedies to help reduce the congestion from the sinus infection. For example, MedlinePlus noted that inhaling steam, such as from a shower, two to four times during the day can help with congestion. Using a humidifier and spraying with nasal saline may also help. Other home remedies that may alleviate the nasal congestion from a sinus infection include placing a warm and moist washcloth on the face multiple times during the day and drinking lots of fluids.

The University of Richmond Student Health Center recommends 10 to 12 glasses of fluids a day, which helps thin the mucus. Sinus infection sufferers with nasal congestion should be careful with over-the-counter spray nasal decongestants — MedlinePlus stated that more than three to five days of use can worsen the existing congestion. With sinus pain, over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen, may help.

Medication may be needed for some people with a sinus infection. If the cause is a bacterial infection, an antibiotic may be prescribed. However, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases noted that many cases of acute sinus infections go away without needing antibiotics. MedlinePlus added that in some cases, such as when the person has severe swelling around her eyes or a fever above 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit, an antibiotic may be prescribed earlier. Some patients may receive allergy shots or take steroids, such as nasal steroid sprays and oral steroids.

If medications do not help with a chronic sinus infection, surgery may be needed. This may involve enlarging the openings of the sinuses or removing any nasal polyps. MedlinePlus noted that in most sinus infections caused by a fungus, surgery is needed.


National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Sinusitis: What is Sinusitis?. National Institutes of Health, 2011. Web. 24 August 2011

University of Richmond Student Health Center. Sinus Infection. Web. 24 August 2011

A.D.A.M. Sinusitis. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, 2010. Web. 24 August 2011

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Sinusitis: How is Sinusitis Treated?. National Institutes of Health, 2011. Web. 24 August 2011

Reviewed on August 25, 2011
by Maryann Gromisch
Edited by Jody Smith

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I have had several sinus infections. One cure that worked was large doses of Sudafed. Another more natural cure that also worked is vitamin E oil. It sounds like it would hurt but it really doesn't . Tilt your head back and rub the vitamine E oil inside the nostrils, then take a wash cloth soaked with hot water , as hot as you can stand it, lay down and hold the wash cloth over your nose so the oil can penetrate into the sinus cavity. It softens the congestion and heals the sinus cavity. My mother had a severe sinus infection and asked the doctor several times if he could give her something for it. I was there and the doctor just ignored the question and remained focused on the reason she had made the appointment. She could hardly breathe. I suggested the vitamin E oil treatment when we got home. It loosened the blockage and she was thrilled to be able to breathe again. Two large chunks of dried up mucus that looked like lava rock came right out and I believe it saved her life. A little unconventional but very effective.

July 25, 2015 - 4:11pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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