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Sinus Infection (cont.)

Can a sinus infection (sinusitis) be prevented?

Prevention of a sinus infection depends upon its cause.

  • Avoid contracting upper respiratory tract infections. Maintain strict hand washing habits and avoid people who are suffering from a cold or the flu.
  • Obtaining the flu vaccination yearly will help to prevent the flu (influenza) and subsequent infection of the upper respiratory tract.
  • In some studies, zinc carbonate lozenges have been shown to reduce the duration of many cold symptoms.
  • Stress reduction and a diet rich in antioxidants, especially fresh, dark-colored fruits and vegetables, may help strengthen the immune system.
  • Plan for seasonal allergy attacks.
    • If A sinus infection is caused by seasonal or environmental allergies, avoiding allergens is very important. If avoidance is not an option, either OTC or prescription medication may be helpful. OTC antihistamines or decongestant nasal sprays can be used for an acute attack.
    • People who have seasonal allergies may benefit from nonsedating prescription antihistamines during allergy-season.
    • Avoid spending long periods outdoors during allergy season. Close the windows to the house and use air conditioning to filter out allergens when possible. Humidifiers may also be helpful.
    • Allergy shots, also called "immunotherapy," may be effective in reducing or eliminating sinusitis due to allergies. Shots are administered by an allergist regularly for 3 to 5 years, but they often produce a reduction or complete remission of allergy symptoms for years.
  • Stay hydrated
    • Maintain good sinus hygiene by drinking plenty of fluids to keep nasal secretions thin.
    • Saline nasal sprays (available at drug stores) help keep the nasal passages moist, helping remove infectious agents. Inhaling steam from a bowl of boiling water or in a hot, steamy shower may also help.
    • Try to avoid air travel. If air travel is necessary, use a nasal decongestant spray prior to departure to keep the sinus passages open and use a saline nasal spray during the flight.
  • Avoid allergens in the environment
    • People who suffer from chronic sinusitis should avoid areas and activities that may aggravate the condition, such as cigarette smoke, secondhand smoke, and diving under water in chlorinated pools.

What is the prognosis for a person with an acute or chronic sinus infection (sinusitis)?

Sinusitis or sinus infections usually clear up if treated early and appropriately. Aside from those who develop complications, the outlook for acute bacterial sinusitis is good. People may develop chronic sinusitis or have recurrent attacks of acute sinusitis if they have allergic or structural causes for their sinusitis.


American Academy of Allergy and Immunology. "Tips to Remember: Allergy Shots."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Sinus Rinsing & Neti Pots."

US Federal Drug Administration. "Is Rinsing Your Sinuses Safe?"

Hickner JM, Bartlett JG, Besser RE, Gonzales R, Hoffman JR, Sande MA; American Academy of Family Physicians; American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Mediciine; Centers for Disease Control; Infectious Diseases Society of America. "Principles of appropriate antibiotic use for acute rhinosinusitis in adults: background." Ann Intern Med. 2001 Mar 20;134(6):498-505.

Rabago D., Zgierska A. "Saline Nasal Irrigation for Upper Respiratory Conditions." Am Fam Physician. 2009 November 15; 80(10): 1117–1119.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/16/2015

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