Q:

What can be done to relieve sinus infection discomfort?

A:

Quick Answer

Non-prescription remedies that can help relieve the discomfort caused by a sinus infection include steam inhalation, saline sprays and drinking plenty of water, which aids in lubricating the mucous membranes, as stated by the University of Maryland Medical Center. An over-the-counter decongestant may bring some relief, but antihistamines should be avoided because they may cause the mucous to dry and make the condition worse. Doctors will usually wait 1 to 2 weeks before prescribing antibiotics because most acute sinus infections will clear up on their own by then and eliminate the need for medication.

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Full Answer

Sinus infections are not uncommon and there are more than 24 million cases reported each year in the United States. The clinical term for the condition is sinusitis or rhinosinusitis, and it describes an inflammation of the mucous membrane lining the paranasal sinuses located above, below and between the eyes. Most of the infections are viral and caused by influenza viruses, coronaviruses and rhinoviruses. The sinus infection is usually preceded by an infection of the upper respiratory tract.

Because viral infections do not respond to antibiotics, antibacterial medications are only prescribed after it has been determined that the sinus infection is bacterial. A fungal invasion can also cause acute sinusitis and occurs typically in patients with immune deficiency conditions or diabetes. In some cases, a sinus inflammation can be triggered by chlorine fumes or cigarette smoke.

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