Font Size

Sinus Infection (cont.)

What Medications Cure a Sinus Infection and Opens the Sinuses?

Medications to Cure a Sinus Infection

The chief goal of sinus infection treatment is eliminating bacteria from the sinus cavities with antibiotics. This helps to prevent complications, relieve symptoms, and reduce the risk of chronic sinusitis.

  • For acute, uncomplicated cases, a synthetic penicillin such as amoxicillin (Amoxil, Polymox, or Trimox) is used most commonly. This antibiotic is effective against the usual causative microorganisms and is relatively inexpensive. Amoxicillin's main side effects include allergic reactions (throat swelling, hives) and stomach upset.
  • People allergic to penicillin can take a sulfur-containing antibiotic called trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole or TMP/SMX (Bactrim, Cotrim, or Septra). Sulfa drugs are not recommended for people who are allergic to sulfur.
  • People who have several episodes of partially treated acute sinusitis or those who have chronic sinusitis may become resistant to amoxicillin and TMP/SMX. Synthetic penicillins and cephalosporins such as amoxicillin/clavulanate (Augmentin), cefuroxime (Ceftin), and loracarbef (Lorabid) can clear most of the resistant organisms that cause sinus infection.
  • Overuse of these "broad-spectrum" antibiotics may eventually lead to organisms evolving that can resist even the most potent antibiotics currently available. Simpler antibiotics such as amoxicillin should be used first and taken for the entire duration (14-21 days).

Medications to Maintain Open Sinuses

To treat acute sinusitis, one or more OTC or prescription therapies may be all that is necessary. For those with recurrent bouts of acute sinusitis or chronic sinusitis, the addition of intranasal or oral steroids (prednisone) may reduce symptoms. Commonly prescribed steroid medications are beclomethasone (Beconase, Vancenase), fluticasone (Flonase), triamcinolone (Nasacort), and flunisolide (Nasalide).

  • Steroids are potent inhibitors of inflammation.
  • Nasal sprays (intranasal steroids) work directly on the lining of the nasal passages and sinuses with little effect on the rest of the body when taken in prescribed dosages.
  • As with the other classes of drugs, many intranasal steroids are available. Some are more tolerable than others. Some are over-the-counter and some are prescription medications. These drugs do not relieve symptoms immediately like nasal and oral decongestants do, but once therapeutic drug levels are achieved, symptoms usually improve, and decongestants may not be necessary.
  • During months when environmental allergens are most widespread, the early administration of intranasal steroids may help keep the sinuses open and draining, and prevent sinusitis.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/5/2017
Medical Editor:

Must Read Articles Related to Sinus Infection

Bronchitis (Chronic)
Bronchitis Bronchitis is acute or chronic inflamma...learn more >>
Colds The cold is the most commonly occurring illness in...learn more >>
Coughs A cough is a symptom of an underlying disease or condition. A chronic or persistent cough may signal certain lung conditions that should be evaluated by a healt...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Sinus Infection:

Sinus Infection (Sinusitis) - Surgery

Please share your experience with sinus surgery.

Sinus Infection (Sinusitis) - Experience

Please share your experience with sinus infections or sinusitis.

Sinus Infection - Signs and Symptoms

What signs and symptoms did you experience with your sinus infection?

Sinus Infection - Effective Treatments

What kinds of treatments have been effective for your sinus infection?

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 »

Medical Dictionary