Your sinuses are chambers in your skull around your nose and eyes. They are filled with air. Sinusitis is an infection of these chambers, which causes them to become swollen or inflamed.
What to Expect
Many cases of sinusitis clear up on their own. Most of the time, you do not need antibiotics if your sinusitis lasts for less than 2 weeks. Even when you do use antibiotics, they may only slightly reduce the time you are sick.
Your health care provider is more likely to prescribe antibiotics if your sinusitis lasts longer than 2 weeks or recurs often.
Your provider may also refer you to an ear, nose, and throat doctor or an allergy specialist.
Keeping mucus thin will help it drain from your sinuses and relieve your symptoms. Drinking plenty of clear fluids is one way to do this. You can also:
Apply a warm, moist washcloth to your face several times a day.
Inhale steam 2 to 4 times a day. One way to do this is to sit in the bathroom with the shower running. Do not inhale hot steam.
Spray with nasal saline several times per day.
Use a humidifier to keep the air in your room moist.
You can buy nasal sprays that relieve stuffiness or congestion without a prescription. They may help at first, but using them for more than 3 to 5 days can cause your symptoms to get worse.
To further relieve your symptoms, avoid:
Flying when you are congested
Very hot or very cold temperatures or sudden changes in temperature
Bending forward with your head down
Allergies and Sinusitis
Allergies that are not well-controlled can make sinus infections harder to treat.
Ashutosh Kacker, MD, BS, Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Attending Otolaryngologist, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.