Sinus infection, also known as sinusitis, is commonly caused by viruses and sometimes by bacteria. Fungi attack the sinus only when the immune system is severely weakened by diabetes, AIDS or leukemia. The infection causes inflammation of the sinuses, thereby congesting the nasal passages with thick mucus, inducing cough, bad breath, fever and sore throat.
Treatment for sinus infection primarily focuses on clearing the obstruction in the nasal passages by reducing the inflammation of the mucosa in the sinuses and promoting drainage of the mucus. The underlying viral infection that affects the upper respiratory tract and causes inflammation of the lining of the nasal passages heals naturally within a few days. In the event of bacterial sinus infection, antibiotics are used for killing the germs and providing relief from the symptoms of sinusitis.
Medications To Treat Sinus Infections
Decongestants are commonly used in the form of nasal sprays and sometimes taken orally to open the sinuses and ease drainage of the mucus. Decongestant nasal sprays are usually available over-the-counter. They work rapidly, clearing the congestion within a few minutes. Oral decongestants, however, work slowly. It may take several minutes to experience the beneficial effect of the oral drug. People with high blood pressure, enlarged prostate, cardiac problems and anxiety should not take decongestants without consulting their physicians.
By narrowing the blood vessels in the nasal passages, oxymetazoline nasal sprays help to open the sinuses. They work rapidly, clearing the obstruction in the sinuses within one to three minutes. However, it should not be used more than twice a day for three days. Oxymetazoline nasal spray is not recommended for children below 6 years of age. Burning, stinging or dryness in the nose, sneezing, increased nasal discharge, headache, dizziness, nausea and sleeping problems are common side effects of the drug.
Phenylephrine is available in the form of nasal spray or as tablets and liquids that are taken orally for opening the sinuses.The nasal spray works rapidly, whereas it takes about 30 to 60 minutes for the oral drugs to open the sinuses. Sleeping difficulties, nervousness and dizziness are common side effects of this drug.
Naphazoline nasal spray provides relief from the discomfort caused by sinus infection. It is usually not used for more than three days. Stinging, burning and dryness of the nose, sneezing and excess mucus secretion in the nasal passage are common side effects of the drug.
This oral decongestant helps to alleviate the discomfort of sinus infection by narrowing the blood vessels of the nasal passages. Pseudoephedrine tablets can be taken four to six times a day. The extended-release versions of the regular pseudoephedrine tablet are taken once or twice a day. Nausea, vomiting, headache, restlessness and vomiting are common side effects of the drug.
Antibiotics are used for treating sinus infection only when bacteria are believed to be responsible for the infection.
Uncomplicated bacterial sinus infections are treated with penicillin or penicillin-like antibiotics such as amoxicillin. These drugs should not be used by people with a history of allergy to penicillin.
Sulfur-containing antibiotics such as sulfamethoxazole or trimethoprim are usually used for curing bacterial sinus infection in people allergic to penicillin. However, these antibiotics are unsafe for people allergic to sulfur.
Given the rising incidence of bacterial infections caused by bacteria strains resistant to the earlier generation antibiotic drugs, the new generation antibiotics may be used for treating sinus infections. The cephalosporin antibiotics are usually recommended for treating bacterial sinus infections that do not respond to conventional antibiotic treatments.