Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Acute Sinusitis Drugs

There are a variety of drugs that are useful in the treatment of sinusitis.

Nasal decongestants
Oral nasal decongestants may relieve sinus congestion making breathing easier. Decongestant nasal sprays are also very effective. These sprays should not be used for longer than 3-4 days. Prolonged use can worsen congestion.

Commonly recommended oral decongestants and nasal sprays include:

Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, may provide relief of nasal congestion in those with allergic sinusitis. Avoid antihistamines if you have allergic sinusitis, because the medication can thicken the mucus.

Commonly recommended oral antihistamines include:

Anti-inflammatory medicines
Chronic allergic sinusitis may respond to nasal corticosteroid spray, such as Flonase or Nasacort. These medications reduce inflammation caused by exposure to allergens. Cromolyn is another medication that reduces inflammation.

Anti-inflammatories used to treat sinusitis include:

Research has shown that viruses cause most cases of acute sinusitis. All cases of viral sinusitis and many cases of mild bacterial sinusitis do not improve with antibiotics. However, antibiotics may be necessary in acute sinusitis. Those with a fever, a thick or bloody nasal discharge and persistent facial pain may improve with an antibiotic. Culture of the sinus discharge may help to guide antibiotic selection. Antibiotic therapy may be necessary for 4 or more weeks in people with chronic bacterial sinusitis.

Commonly prescribed antibiotics for acute sinusitis include:

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Last Updated: Jan 4, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Acute Sinusitis References
  1. Brook I. Microbiology and antimicrobial management of sinusitis. J Laryngol Otol. 2005 Apr;119(4):251-8. [15949076]
  2. Klossek JM, Federspil P. Update on treatment guidelines for acute bacterial sinusitis. Int J Clin Pract. 2005 Feb;59(2):230-8. [15854202]
  3. Mortimore S, Wormald PJ. Management of acute complicated sinusitis: a 5-year review. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1999 Nov;121(5):639-42. [10547486]
  4. Oxford LE, McClay J. Complications of acute sinusitis in children. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2005 Jul;133(1):32-7. [1602504]
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