Relieving Sinusitis

Sinusitis means your sinuses, hollow air spaces within the bones surrounding the nose, are inflamed. Your sinuses produce mucus, which drains into the nose. If your nose is swollen, this can block the sinuses and cause pain. The cause can be an infection or another problem.

Symptoms of sinusitis can include fever, weakness, fatigue, cough, and congestion. There may also be mucus drainage in the back of the throat, called postnasal drip. Your health care professional diagnoses sinusitis based on your symptoms and an examination of your nose and face. You may also need imaging tests. 

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Sinusitis Treatments Available

Medical Therapy

Saline nasal irrigation

SNI is sprayed into your nose to rinse your nasal passages.

Nasal corticosteroids

These nasal sprays help prevent and treat inflammation. Examples include fluticasone (Flonase), budesonide (Rhinocort Aqua), triamcinolone (Nasacort AQ), mometasone (Nasonex) and beclomethasone (Beconase AQ).

Oral or injected corticosteroids

These medications are used to relieve inflammation from severe sinusitis, especially if you also have nasal polyps (see video).

Examples include prednisone and methylprednisolone. Oral corticosteroids can cause serious side effects when used long term, so they're used only to treat severe symptoms.

Decongestants

These medications are available in over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription liquids, tablets and nasal sprays. Examples of OTC oral decongestants include Sudafed and Actifed. An example of an OTC nasal spray is oxymetazoline (Afrin). These medications are generally taken for a few days at most; otherwise they can cause the return of more severe congestion (rebound congestion).

Over-the-counter pain relievers 

This includes aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others).

Antibiotics 

Antibiotics are sometimes necessary for sinusitis if you have a bacterial infection. However, chronic sinusitis is often caused by something other than bacteria, so antibiotics don't always help.

 

Surgical Therapy

In cases that continue to resist treatment or medication, endoscopic sinus surgery may be an option. For this procedure, the doctor uses an endoscope, a thin, flexible tube with an attached light, to explore your sinus passages. Then, depending on the source of obstruction, the doctor may use various instruments to remove tissue or shave away a polyp that's causing nasal blockage. Enlarging a narrow sinus opening also may be an option to promote drainage.

Balloon Sinuplasty

This uses a thin balloon similar to an angioplasty balloon to open the sinus passages and provide easier breathing. The technology uses small, soft, flexible devices that enter entirely through the nostrils. As in heart vessels, a balloon is placed into position and inflated, then deflated and removed. This results in permanent widening of the critical areas leading into the sinuses while leaving the nose lining unharmed. This is a less invasive technique than functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS), which cuts away sinus tissue.