A sinus infection, also referred to as sinusitis, is caused when the sinuses become inflamed due to viruses, bacteria, or allergies. The infection can be acute, lasting less than two months, or chronic, lasting more than two months. A person suffering from a sinus infection will often experience fever, headaches, and pain around the eyes, nose, and cheeks. The aim of treatment is to lessen swelling in the nasal passages, eliminate infection, and drain the sinuses open. Treatments for sinus infection include home remedies, decongestants, antibiotics, and, in extreme cases, surgery.
One of the most common treatments for sinus infection is to promote drainage by the use of heat. This can be done by inhaling steam from a bowl of boiling water for 10 minutes or placing warm compresses on the face several times a day for up to 10 minutes. Another way to induce drainage is to breathe in the steam for a hot bath or shower.
Treatments for sinus infection can also include decongestants. A decongestant aids in improving airway blockage and alleviating symptoms of an infection. Some over-the-counter nasal sprays can work in as fast as one minute. Decongestants can also come in tablet and liquid form and can work in up to 15 minutes. A drawback of decongestants is that after extended use, they become less efficient in treating the infection.
Penicillin and other antibiotics are also effective treatments for sinus infection. Amoxicillin is commonly used to combat microorganisms responsible for the infection. Individuals who may be allergic to penicillin may take a sulfur-based antibiotic. For antibiotics to work properly, an individual with a sinus infection should take the entire dosage, even if he feels better after a few days.
For a recurring acute or chronic sinus infection, steroids are another type of treatment. Steroids are prescribed by a doctor. Steroids in the form of nasal sprays aid in clearing nasal passages while having minimal effect on the rest of the body when taken in the recommended dosage. This type of medication is effective in relieving symptoms of an infection but is not as immediate as decongestants.
In some cases, surgery may be needed, especially if the infection has extended beyond the sinuses into the skull or brain. Surgery may also be an option if an individual does not respond to antibiotics or other forms of treatment. With surgery, the intent is to open the nasal passages and drain the sinuses.