How do I Choose the Most Effective Sinusitis Treatment?

M.C. Huguelet

The sinuses are mucus-lined, air-filled cavities in the skull. Sometimes, the lining of the sinuses becomes inflamed, causing poor mucus drainage, nasal pressure, and a number of other uncomfortable symptoms. This condition, known as sinusitis, has many possible causes, including viral and bacterial infections, allergies, and growths in the nasal passages. If you are suffering from sinus problems, the most effective sinusitis treatment for you can vary based on the condition’s underlying cause. In addition to cause-specific treatments, you may find that certain universal home remedies, such as inhaling steam, can help ease the discomfort caused by your infection.

Inhaling steam might help ease sinusitis symptoms.
Inhaling steam might help ease sinusitis symptoms.

Sinusitis is often caused by a viral infection which sets in when the nasal passages have been blocked by a cold or the flu, creating a warm, moist environment hospitable to germs. As with a cold or the flu, sinusitis which has been caused by a virus generally does not respond to antibiotics. The most effective viral sinusitis treatment is time, and most cases will clear up within a week or two. While you wait for your immune system to eliminate the infection, you can temporarily reduce nasal blockage with a decongestant, ease tissue inflammation with a saline nasal spray, and relieve headaches and facial pain with an over-the-counter pain medication.

Sinus infections can cause facial pain and pressure.
Sinus infections can cause facial pain and pressure.

Less commonly, sinusitis results from a bacterial infection of the nasal passages. If your physician determines that your infection is caused by bacteria, she may decide that the most effective sinusitis treatment is a course of antibiotics. Some physicians feel that antibiotics are not sufficiently effective in the treatment of sinusitis to warrant their use, however. If your physician has reservations about prescribing antibiotics, she may advise you to try using over-the-counter sinus medications for several days. Should your symptoms persist, she may then prescribe antibiotics as a last resort.

Exposure to an allergen may also be responsible for your sinusitis. In this case, the most effective sinusitis treatment may be simply cutting off exposure to that allergen. For instance, if animal dander causes your nasal passages to become inflamed, you may wish to avoid spending time at homes with pets. To help ease your symptoms, you may wish to take an over-the-counter antihistamine medication or flush your nasal passages with saline spray.

A deformity or growth within your nasal passages may also be the cause of your sinusitis. For instance, nasal polyps, or small growths on the nasal tissue, can prevent nasal drainage, increasing the chances of sinusitis. In the case of a nasal deformity or growth, the most effective sinusitis treatment may be surgery to restore proper nasal function. The exact type of procedure needed will depend on the nature of the deformity or growth.

No matter the cause of your sinusitis, you may find that a few home remedies can help ease the discomfort caused by the illness. You may wish to try inhaling steam to ease breathing or applying warm compresses to your face to soothe pain. Finally, you might find that increasing your fluid intake can help speed nasal drainage.

Nasal sprays may provide some relief from sinusitis symptoms.
Nasal sprays may provide some relief from sinusitis symptoms.

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