Sinusitis is a condition in which the paranasal sinuses are inflamed due to viruses, bacteria, fungi, allergies or an autoimmune reaction. Most cases of sinusitis last up to seven days and typically resolve without medical intervention. Chronic sinusitis, however, may last for as long as 12 weeks and require surgery.
Patients with symptoms that last more than seven to 10 days or who have a fever or headache should schedule an appointment with their doctor. Treatment for sinusitis will depend on the severity of the condition.
Acute Sinusitis Treatment
Symptoms of acute sinusitis may be treated with the following methods:
- Hold a moist, warm washcloth over your sinuses to alleviate pain
- Use a humidifier to moisten the air.
- Use a saline nasal spray to help clear the nasal passages.
- Drink plenty of water to help thin the mucus.
- Take over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Use an OTC nasal corticosteroid spray to reduce intranasal and sinus inflammation.
- Use an OTC oral decongestant therapy to dry up mucus.
- Keep your head elevated when sleeping to encourage the sinuses to drain.
- Consider taking nasturtium herb and horseradish to help relieve symptoms.
If acute sinusitis is brought on by intranasal allergies, then the patient’s physician may recommend allergy shots.
Chronic Sinusitis Treatment
Depending on the severity of the condition, a patient’s physician may recommend the following treatments.
- Nasal corticosteroids. Fluticasone, budesonide, mometasone, tramcinolone and beclomethasone nasal sprays may help prevent and treat inflammation. Also rinsing with a solution of saline may be even more effective.
- Oral or injected corticosteroids. This treatment may be appropriate for patients with nasal polyps. Oral corticosteroids may cause serious side effects and should only be used short-term to treat severe symptoms.
- Saline nasal irrigation. Nasal sprays or solutions may help reduce drainage and clear the nose of irritants and allergens.
- Aspirin desensitization treatment. Patients with reactions to aspirin are gradually given larger doses of aspirin to increase their tolerance and prevent sinusitis.
Patients who have a bacterial infection may need antibiotics. If there is no underlying infection, the physician may prescribe antibiotics in combination with other medications.
Patients with allergies may benefit from allergy shots to help reduce their immune system’s response to specific allergens and alleviate symptoms of sinusitis.
If patients don’t respond to treatment or medication, an endoscopic sinus surgery may be effective. During the procedure, the physician will use a thin, flexible tube with an attached light (called an endoscope) to explore the sinus passage and identify any obstructions. The physician may need to remove tissue or shave away a polyp to open up the nasal passageway and promote drainage.
Tips for Preventing Sinusitis
Taking the following steps may help decrease your risk of sinusitis:
- Eating a healthy diet to support the immune system.
- Avoiding cigarette smoke and polluted air.
- Treating allergies as soon as they are suspected.
- Washing hands often and before meals
- Using a humidifier, especially during dry seasons, to keep the indoor air moist.
- Minimizing your contact with individuals who have acute respiratory or sinus infections.
- Taking oral decongestant therapy to treat nasal congestion.