• By Dana Sparks

Home Remedies: Treating acute sinusitis without antibiotics

June 12, 2019
a medical illustration of healthy sinuses and acute sinusitis

QUESTION: I have acute sinusitis, and my health care provider doesn't think I need antibiotics. Are there nonprescription medications or home remedies that can help relieve symptoms?

ANSWER: Yes. Over-the-counter pain relievers and decongestants may help relieve facial pain and sinus congestion associated with acute sinusitis. Over-the-counter medications that may help include:

  • Decongestants.
    These work by narrowing blood vessels to help reduce inflammation and swelling that cause sinus congestion. Such medications are available in liquids, tablets and nasal sprays.
  • Pain relievers.
    Pain caused by pressure buildup in the sinus cavities may be relieved by aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Always use over-the-counter products as directed. If your child becomes infected, check with his or her health care provider to find out what's safe.

Home remedies you may want to try:

  • Inhale warm water vapor.
    Drape a towel over your head as you breathe in the moist air from a bowl of warm or moderately hot water. Or take a hot shower, breathing in the warm, moist air.
  • Apply warm compresses.
    Place warm, damp towels around your nose, cheeks and eyes to ease facial pain.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
    Consuming additional fluids helps dilute mucous secretions and promotes drainage.
  • Use a saline nasal spray.
    Saline washes or sprays can remove thick secretions and allow the sinuses to drain.
  • Use a neti pot.
    A neti pot is a container designed to rinse debris or mucus from your nasal cavity. Neti pots are often available in pharmacies and health food stores, as well as online. Be sure to use filtered water and keep it clean. Talk to your health care provider to see if nasal rinsing is right for you.

Most people with acute sinusitis get better without antibiotics. However, if your symptoms are severe or last longer than a few days, talk to your health care provider.

This article is written by Dr. James Li and Mayo Clinic staff. Find more health and medical information on mayoclinic.org.

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