How Do You Treat a Sinus Infection?

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Treating a sinus infection involves treating the symptoms and underlying cause, according to Mayo Clinic. While some sinus infections require the use antibiotics, the vast majority don't. This is because the primary cause of most sinus infections is a virus, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For viral sinus infections, antibiotics won't do any good. Antibiotics are used for bacterial sinus infections.

If the sinus infection is a fungal infection, an antifungal might be necessary, although fungal sinus infections are less common. Nasal congestion, which is caused by inflammation of the normally air-filled sinus cavity, can be treated with a saline nasal spray. In some cases, a nasal corticosteriod or antihistamine might be used if allergies or nasal polyps are the cause of the sinus infection according to MedlinePlus. Decongestants might also help to relieve nasal congestion, notes Mayo Clinic.

Because a sinus infection might cause a headache, over-the-counter pain relievers might be necessary. Using a warm compress on the face might help to relieve some of the pressure associated with a sinus infection, and staying hydrated to thin mucous and keeping the nasal cavity moist by using a humidifier might also help, notes the National Institutes of Health.

Steroids, which are available only by prescription, may be necessary for reducing mucus membrane swelling. For extreme and stubborn sinusitis, surgery to enlarge the sinus passages and remove any blockages so that the sinuses can drain more readily may be the best course of treatment.