How Do I Get Rid of a Sinus Infection?

Reviewed on 9/20/2021

Sinus infections caused by viruses can often be treated with home remedies such as over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers to reduce pain, decongestants, saline nasal sprays, saltwater rinses for the nose and sinuses, a warm compress over the nose and forehead, and inhaling steam from a shower or bowl of hot water.
Sinus infections caused by viruses can often be treated with home remedies such as over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers to reduce pain, decongestants, saline nasal sprays, saltwater rinses for the nose and sinuses, a warm compress over the nose and forehead, and inhaling steam from a shower or bowl of hot water.

A sinus infection (sinusitis) is an inflammation of the sinuses and nasal cavity. 

There are two types of sinus infections:

  • Acute sinusitis
    • Has a sudden onset 
    • Lasts less than eight weeks, or 
    • Happens no more than three times per year, with each occurrence lasting 10 days or less
  • Chronic sinusitis
    • The most common type
    • Lasts long-term, longer than eight weeks, or
    • Happens more than four times yearly, and symptoms last more than 20 days

How to Treat Sinus Infection Symptoms

Sinus infections are most often caused by viruses, so most of the time, the fastest way to get rid of a sinus infection is with home remedies to relieve the symptoms, such as: 

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers to reduce pain
  • Use a decongestant or saline nasal spray
    • Talk to your child’s pediatrician before giving pain medicines, decongestants, or any cough and cold medicines to children
  • Rinse the nose and sinuses with salt water a few times a day 
  • Use warm compress over the nose and forehead to help relieve sinus pressure
  • Breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water or shower

If symptoms are not eased with home remedies, a doctor may prescribe a steroid nasal spray to reduce the swelling in the nose. 

If symptoms of a sinus infection do not improve after 10 days, or you have symptoms such as fever and severe pain, antibiotics may be indicated. 

What Are Symptoms of a Sinus Infection?

Symptoms of a sinus infection vary, and depend on the cause, whether the sinus infection is acute or chronic, and what parts of the sinuses are affected. 

Symptoms of acute sinusitis include:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Postnasal drip 
  • Sore throat
  • Pain or pressure feeling
    • Around or under the eye(s)
    • Across the cheekbone
    • Around the upper teeth
    • Headache in the temple or behind the eye
    • Earache, or feeling of fullness in the ears
    • On one or both sides of the face
    • Symptoms worsen when coughing or straining
  • Fever 
  • Dizziness
  • Sneezing
  • Facial swelling
  • Throat itching
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Loss of sense of smell

Symptoms of chronic sinusitis may include those of acute sinusitis, but the symptoms last longer and/or are more severe. Additional symptoms of chronic sinusitis may include:

  • Pain/pressure that worsens 
    • In the late morning 
    • When wearing eyeglasses
    • When leaning forward
  • Increased facial discomfort throughout the day 
  • Chronic bad breath (halitosis)
  • Chronic sore throat 
  • Chronic toothache or increased tooth sensitivity
  • Increased cough at night

What Causes Sinus Infection?

Causes of sinus infections include:

  • Viruses (most common cause)
  • Bacteria
  • Allergens or pollutants
  • Fungal infection

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Reviewed on 9/20/2021
References
https://www.uptodate.com/contents/acute-sinusitis-and-rhinosinusitis-in-adults-clinical-manifestations-and-diagnosis?search=sinus%20infection%20symptoms&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=1#H99987

https://acaai.org/allergies/types/sinus-infection

https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/for-patients/common-illnesses/sinus-infection.html

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/sinusitis-in-adults-the-basics?search=sinusitis%20treatment&source=search_result&selectedTitle=3~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=3

https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/sinus-infection.html