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Sinus Infection (cont.)

What is the treatment for sinus infection (sinusitis)?

The main goals in treating a sinus infection or sinusitis involve reducing the swelling or inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses, curing the infection, promoting drainage from the sinuses, and maintaining open sinuses.

What OTC nasal sprays and oral decongestants reduce inflammation?

Blood cells and lining cells of the mucosa in the sinuses can normally fight off foreign invaders. However, if overwhelmed by viruses, bacteria or allergens, sinus inflammation (sinusitis) may occur. With appropriate therapy, a short-lived infection can be treated effectively. Because foreign substances trigger numerous reactions, many treatments are available that can treat the symptoms of inflammation.

Decongestants help reduce airway obstruction and are important in the initial treatment to alleviate symptoms.

  • OTC nasal sprays: oxymetazoline (Afrin), phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine), naphazoline (Naphcon), and chlorzoxazone (Forte) work the fastest, within one to three minutes. These agents should not be used for more than three days because they become less effective and more frequent applications become necessary to attain the same results. This "rebound" phenomenon can be reduced by alternating between nostrils and using the medicine less frequently. Some people over-treat their nasal congestion with nasal spray and become dependent upon it in order to breathe more easily (a disorder called rhinitis medicamentosum). Overcoming the dependency requires a difficult withdrawal program involving oral decongestants, saline, steroid nasal sprays, systemic steroids, or a combination thereof.
  • OTC oral decongestants: OTC oral decongestants (in tablet or liquid form) contain the active ingredients pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine. They work much slower than nasal sprays do, and achieve their effect within 30-60 minutes. As with the nasal preparations, oral decongestants may become less effective with prolonged use. The rebound phenomenon exists but is not as severe as with spray preparations. Preparations containing pseudoephedrine are now kept behind the counter at the pharmacy but are still available without a prescription.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/16/2015

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Sinusitis, Acute »

Sinusitis is characterized by inflammation of the lining of the paranasal sinuses.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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