Sinus infection Remedies
The body can fight off most sinus infections—even the bacterial kind—without antibiotics. The keys are having a good immune system and finding ways to get these stopped-up sinuses to unstop and drain.
The following things can help strengthen your immune system to help it fight off the infection:
Prescription for Prevention
A prescription nasal steroid inhaler can help prevent sinus infections.
These remedies can help your sinuses open up and drain out all that mucus and bacteria:
- Humidified air from a humidifier, or steam from the shower or bath.
- Drinking plenty of fluids to keep those membranes hydrated and that mucus thinner.
- Warm, moist bath cloths on the face for ten- to twenty-minute intervals.
- Decongestants like Sudafed or Afrin to shrink swollen membranes. Read the labels. For instance, don’t use if you have high blood pressure, and don’t use for more than a couple of days or you’ll start getting rebound swelling. (Every time you try to stop it, even if you’re over the infection, your nasal membranes will swell back up.)
- Mucus thinners like guaifenesin (Robitussin, Mucinex).
- Saltwater nasal sprays (available at the pharmacy).
- Sinus irrigation. See a video demonstration in my post on how to treat a cold. And be sure to read my post on how to do it safely.
- Avoiding irritants such a smoke and allergens.
Complications are rare, but the infection can spread to the bones around the sinuses, into the tissue around the eye, or into the brain area (meningitis).
In addition to the above remedies, you can always use your favorite over-the-counter pain reliever.
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When to Take Antibiotics
Everyone is different so it’s always best to check with your doctor. But if you can’t do that, as a general rule, take antibiotics if:
- You have facial or teeth pain and fever, and it’s not a cold or the flu.
- You have cloudy nasal drainage that lasts over a week and is not getting any better, along with facial pain, teeth pain, or a sore throat.
If you take antibiotics, take them for ten to fourteen days to make sure you kill off all the bacteria causing the infection. Amoxicillin or amoxicillin/clavulanate (Augmentin) is a good choice. If you’re allergic to penicillin, then ciprofloxacin, erythromycin (such as azithromycin), or a sulfa drug is a good choice. (Read more about antibiotics and how to get them here.)
Now I know many of you have had sinus infections. What remedies and preventions have you found useful?
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Photo by “sea turtle” on Flickr.